[Papabear notes: in this column Papabear made a goof about contract law (and it was a pretty stupid one, too *blush*, and I should have known better), which is pointed out by a nice reader in the comments below. This is a great example of how this column can work as a community and that I very much appreciate my readers' input because it makes "Ask Papabear" more helpful than if I just did this on my own. Thanks!]
I have been looking around for fursuit makers that allow a minor to have their parent cosign to get a fursuit, but can't find any. There are a few things saying minors cannot do commissions and a few others saying that it is just preference. I earned the money myself, though, so my parent wouldn't mind me spending it.
So my question is: Do you know of any good makers that wil do a partial suit for a minor or at least let the minors parent cosign?
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Commissioning a fursuit is not like going to a furcon, where you need to get an adult's permission or be accompanied by an adult if you are a minor. It's not like you are buying something naughty from Bad Dragon. It's just a fursuit. And if you have the money to pay for it, I'm sure most makers will take your money!
The practice of cosigning is usually only done for loans in which the person applying for the loan has no collateral (or bad credit) and needs another person with collateral to secure the loan. When you buy a fursuit, however, it is cash or charge, not a loan, so cosigning really makes no sense.
Now, if the issue is you're not sure how to pay because you don't have a charge card or a bank account (you don't want to send cash through the mail!), then run your fuzzy butt over to your local post office and get a money order for your down payment. Money orders up to $500 are $1.25 at the and $1.65 for $501 to $1,000.
When commissioning a partial or full fursuit, Papabear recommend you get a written contract from the fursuit maker stating clearly what they agree to do for you and their refund policies. While this is a little unorthodox in the furry community (most makers just refer you to what is written on their websites, but I don't think that's enough, legally), I also recommend that you set a date for the fursuit to be completed (remembering that this might literally take years) and that you also make clear what happens if you are not happy with the completed product. Papabear has received a couple letters from unhappy furries who have been let down by fursuit makers. But the contract also protects the maker, stating that payment must be received at a certain time before the fursuit is delivered. Finally, get a receipt showing payment.
It's wise of you to get a partial, since you're only 14 and might do some more growing still, which might make a full suit a bit tight on you.
Thanks for the great advice for that previous question, I feel a little better about it now and will do my best to follow it and get rid of my hate. Now I'll ask you about the touchier subject that is not really related to the issue just discussed (although possibly a tiny bit, but nothing to do with hate).
So, a few years ago after I first learnt of being a therian and 'awakened', I had begun to feel a much stronger connection towards canines (being a wolf therian) and even other animals in general that aren't human. And then I started to see dogs differently, getting various lustful and romantic emotions until for a time I was much more interested in canines than humans, I even had a massive crush on a relative's dog (but didn't do much other than let her lick my face as much as she wanted). It elevated though when I begun to feel lustful towards one of my own dogs (I had two) and well, this is hard to admit, but I ended up rubbing her and performing oral on her, and letting her lick me in return (I think I was 16 or 15 at the time). I very stupidly told some 'friends' when we were all sharing secrets and then they spread it around the school, which I then had to cover up as a false rumour that they made up (in order to protect myself since such a thing is illegal in my country, Australia (I hope my parents never read this, they might recognise the story about the 'rumour')).
Sometime after that I also learnt that I am bi, and then I got a boyfriend, causing things to simmer down a bit (although I still did get turned on by dogs). After about a year I broke up with my boyfriend since it was a long distance thing and we had never physically been together. I was really upset at the time, I felt bad for breaking up with him, but I knew it had to be done since it wasn't working for me. Over time I got better and things gradually relaxed as I adjusted to not having any mates. However, not long ago I have begun to feel much more strongly towards non-human animals again, but this time I seem to be turned on by any large mammal, male or female, as long as it isn't a human. I mean, whenever I go to places and see a large mammal, I always try to get a look at (from a distance, no actual contact) whether they're male or female as long as I can do it unnoticed.
Now we have a new dog at our house (since my previous two died) that is male and I ended up getting a crush on him. I always cuddle with him when I can, and it feels amazing when he licks my lips (like the best thing I've ever felt), I am also eager in waiting for whenever he may get an erection. I also strip nude when I'm home alone and let him lick me, but I don't force him to do anything, if he isn't interested I accept it. So um, I guess I'm wondering about whether I should let this continue or not?
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Hi, Fellow Furry,
I wrote an article about zoophilia a while back. Take a look here http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/papabear-chimes-in-on-a-touchy-topic-zoophilia and see what you think. Then get back to me.
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I have read that article before, and I guess it isn't morality that's the issue, since I have already accepted it as all right, provided neither me nor any animals are harmed. However, my issue here is what to do about it, since I'm beginning to fall hopelessly in love with my dog. I do feel kind of restricted, especially because of my parents and the law. I don't think I could explain it to my parents, since there was one time when I tried to approach the subject very neutrally with my aunt (who is more open and progressive than my parents) and even she said that it was disgusting and wrong.... I mean, I'm essentially closeted all over again, this being my fifth and worst time closeted. First it was therian, then furry, then being bi, then being brony, and now it's being zoosexual/zoophilic....
So the questions here are, should I actually view my new dog as my mate? And is there any way for me to loosen up a bit around anybody?
(I also wouldn't mind you putting this on your column if you deem it worthy, since I would like to contribute to helping other zoophiles/zoosexuals in a similar position, as long as you use the previous pseudonym that I used)
Agitated and Confused Therian (age 18)
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Hi, again, Agitated,
While I understand, intellectually, zoophilia and sexual attractions of this sort, I think you need to recognize that dog (and other animal) behavior and psychology is very different from those of human beings. Most people, when they find a loving mate, have someone with whom they share many commonalities: interests in work, hobbies, spiritual and religious issues, sharing a life. While you can have sex with a canine, and even have a loving relationship of sorts, it is not the same as having one with a human being; you can never have a well-rounded matehood with a dog, in my opinion.
I caution you not to anthropomorphize your dog. He is not human, and not just in the physical sense. He will likely see you as the alpha male, a leader of a very small pack, and he will be very loyal and true, but still, it is not the same. He will not share your intellect, and his behavior will always be that of a dog. Also, add to this that your pet will have a very abbreviated life in comparison to your own, which is hard enough when one considers a dog a pet, but much much harder if you consider the dog a mate. You are in for some heavy emotional pain in a few years.
But I will not tell you what to do here. This is your life, and I have no right to judge you. I can tell you that I, personally, would never consider a creature of another species as a mate, but that’s me, not you. My psyche is not the same as yours.
I can tell you, of course, that if you go around telling people that the dog is your mate you are going to be severely ostracized by friends, family, and society as a whole. That is a fact that you are well aware of. Therefore, it is in your best interest not to publicize this, the alternative being to live a hermit’s life far away from other people.
Papabear fears that this is one area that he has little personal experience in, and I don’t think I can give you the best advice on what to do. I would recommend a few websites for you to check out and that you try to connect to other zoophiles who can probably give you better input. Here are two sites: https://www.zoophilia.net/ and http://www.zoophile.net/.
I’ll invite my readers to chime in, as well, so follow this column and see if some people contribute comments.
Hugs. Wishing you luck.
Dear Papa Bear
I feel I have painted myself into a small box, and that I will never meet that man of my dreams. You see I have just realized I am a trans women and I am beginning my transition at the age of 26. However though I have baggage to go along with that. I am also a bigger girl, who's Christian & to top the cake I live with a few disabilities; for example a hearing impairment. But the problem is I'm attractive to bulky guys, bigger boys with d***s between their legs, body hair and facial hair. So my question to you is, am putting myself into a small a box where I won't be able to find anyone? Will I find love?
Transgirl loving bulky bears
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It is this bear’s ardent belief that there is someone for everyone out there—sometimes more than one. There are currently 7,125,000,000+ people on Earth. I’m sure there is someone out there for you.
That said, do not look for a perfect match of someone who shares all your traits and qualifications. Instead, look for someone who is an accepting person who loves you for you. Now, of course, there are some provisos here. You should be physically attracted to one another, for instance (lots of people like their mates meaty like you and I do :-), but other things can be overlooked. Don’t limit yourself too much. For example, if you find a really great guy but he doesn’t have a beard and is smooth, I wouldn’t dismiss him, if I were you, just because he is not a hirsute man.
A personal example: my mate, Yogi, and I are quite different. He’s nine years my senior, he is not a furry, he is very much into TV and radio broadcasting (not a big interest of mine), and we even have some differences sexually. But we share other things, such as enjoying theatre and movies, talking about politics, sharing values. Most important, he is a caring, loving man who loves me deeply and is there for me when I need him to be (such as with my recent hospital stay).
So, to answer the question: yes, you can find love, and there is someone out there for you. The trick is to not be overly picky, while at the same time finding someone who is good for your life (i.e., is caring and kind to you, supportive, and, above all, respectful of you as a human being). Don’t over-romanticize things with the idea of the “man of my dreams.” Most people’s dreams are outrageously unrealistic. And be open to the possibility that love may enter your life from the most unexpected of angles and when you least anticipate it.
Good luck! Wishing you love!
Hi there, Papabear,
I've written to you about two or three times before and you've helped me out which was great, but now I seem to have a few new problems, although I'll just stick with one for this letter. Perhaps I can ask you another question after this is dealt with. I'm using a different pseudonym for now if we deal with the second question which is a touchier subject.
This is something that I think may relate back to my therianthropy for the most part, but not completely. Basically I am finding myself agitated much more easily by many things, but especially humans. There are just so many things that humans do and say that really get on my nerves, although lately I seem to have had a shorter temper than usual. I think about myself after I get angry and agitated, thinking that I seem to be becoming a meaner person, despite wanting to be nice.
My anger and irritation which can be caused by any small annoyance that have been able to previously ignore, is not as bad compared to how agitated I feel when a person says or does something to do with human superiority. Sometimes in my mind when I'm angry, I can only think of despising the human race (although I do acknowledge that not all humans are bad), and see them as an enemy. Hypothetically speaking, when I'm in this mood, if there were ever somehow a war between humanity and mother nature, I would join mother nature without hesitation to defend her and fight back... Even if it were to involve killing combatants... And well, that's not me, if I had a clear head, I would very much rather a peaceful resolution...
Anyway, whilst I lost a little track in that example, I was wondering if you had any idea (although I would understand if you don't) of how I could calm myself and not be so acidic and aggressive? And please try to come up with something other than meditation and anger management methods, since I already do meditate and use them. Also, just tell me if it's okay for me to ask my second question, which is quite separate from this issue.
Agitated and Confused Therian (age 18)
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I know exactly what you mean, my friend. Many is the time that I’ve wanted to resign from the human race and fantasized about being a bear living a simple life in the woods far far away from “civilization.” There are, truly, many things that are reprehensible about Homo sapiens, particularly its warlike, selfish, greedy nature—the fact that humans have polluted this planet to within an inch of its life; that they’ve literally caused the extinction of thousands of species that would be alive today if it weren’t for humans; and so on. I believe that many furries such as me like being furries because at least a part of them doesn’t want to be a human (the other side being the desire to become their species of choice).
On the other paw—as you have pointed out—certainly not all humans are awful, despicable monsters (furries are, after all, human!) Human beings have created some amazing things, including music, art, dance, literature, architecture, and so on. There are caring, loving people out there who believe, as I do, that we are all connected to each other and to the natural world, and who do their best to care for these things unselfishly.
You should realize, too, that the natural world is not always such an idyllic place. Animals and even plants can be guilty of what we would see as very cruel and immoral behaviors. For example, when a dominant male lion takes over the pride of another male lion, it will kill all the cubs sired by the male he defeated. Bears, too, have been known to kill the cubs of other papabears. Chimpanzee troops have been known to conduct very human-like wars against each other. Chipmunks, when in need of protein, will raid a bird's nest and eat the chicks there (you thought they only ate veggies, right? Oh, Alvin!) The pitcher plant lures insects into its trap and slowly dissolves them to death. The fungi of the genus Ophiocordyceps--the “zombie fungi”—infect the brains of ants and make these insects do their bidding before eating their heads. Speaking of heads, the female praying mantis, after mating, will eat the male's head!
Yes, Mother Nature ain’t always pretty.
One might argue that these animals and plants are only doing what instinct tells them to do and that they are not deliberately being mean or even murderous, whereas human beings do know what they are doing and much of what they do might be considered unnecessary.
Really, in most cases, we’re giving humans too much credit by saying such things. They, just as with “lesser” animals, are controlled by instincts, hormones, base desires. As I like to say, “If something is being done that’s really stupid, it’s for one of two reasons: money or sex.” The desire for money and sex are both instinctive: money is just a modern-day version of food and other necessities (you need money to buy food, clothes, shelter), and sex is merely the nature-driven mandate to reproduce. Most human behavior is driven by the desire for these two things (the desire for power translates into money and sex). Therefore, when most humans say they are “superior” to the “lesser” animals, they are, as you know, only fooling themselves. Our lives and civilization are more complex than, say, a horse’s or a tulip’s, but they are in no way innately “better.”
Humans have long been trying to define what makes—they feel—humans better than other animals. We have pointed to our brains, for example. Yes, our brains are bigger and we are, objectively speaking, more intelligent, but that’s really just a matter of degree, and our intelligence certainly hasn’t prevented a lot of tragedy in our world.
It was once said that humans are different because we make tools. Then such people as Jane Goodall pointed out that other animals use tools, too. Again, the tools are not as sophisticated, but they are tools, nonetheless.
Others would point to compassion: that humans sometimes help others selflessly in a way that cannot be defined by survival instincts—even helping other species on occasion. But other animals have shown such compassion, as well. For example, dolphins saving drowning swimmers or, as I recently saw, a little duckling feeding hungry fish its bread crumbs (things that make you go “Awwwwww!”)
Yet another attempt was saying that humans have language. Again, that doesn’t work as an argument for superiority. We’ve learned that other animals have languages, too, some quite sophisticated, such as the echoey call of the grey whale.
For there to be a true distinction between humans and animals, we need to point out something that is not just a matter of degree, such as intelligence, tool-making, language, etc. There is only one characteristic of humans that I know of that no other animals practices: religion and spirituality.
You and I both know that it is because of religion that there has been a hell of a lot of killing in the world. I won’t go into that history. Books have been filled with these tales.
The sort of monotheistic religions we see today are a sad deviation from the original spirituality that more “primitive” peoples had—and many still have, such as Native Americans, Australian aborigines, and modern-day Wiccans.
While there are many good things about monotheistic religions—and I know many good and caring Christians and Jews (so, dear readers, please, no letters that I hate Christians and such—I get it, believe me), and I also recently edited a book about Islam that explains how real Islam is not at all the corrupt and violent ideology practiced by Islamists—here’s the rub: the Big Three teach that the natural world is a world of the devil, of temptation, of evil, and the only good place is God’s Kingdom of Heaven.
In essence, religious people actually look forward to death as an escape from this world (their entire lives are spent "doing good" as a way to buy a stairway to heaven and save their souls from eternal damnation—one result of this philosophy is suicide bombers), while spiritualists celebrate life in all its forms.
This philosophy of the Big Three is the fundamental reason why peoples in the Old World of Europe and the Middle East established a hostile, antithetical relationship with Nature. When Europeans came to the Americas and discovered people living in harmony with nature, they immediately labeled them as heathens and pagans, destroying their culture and converting as many as possible to Christianity. (Actually, you can think of earlier times than that, too, when Christians did the same thing to "pagans" in Europe and the British Isles).
Take us a couple centuries into the future from those early days and we now see the results of choosing a hostile, rather than cooperative, relationship with Nature.
We have now come to a time that is a crossroads. Humanity is splitting into two groups: one group adheres to the old ways of viewing Nature as a resource to be used; the other group sees that unless we change our ways and return to the days when we lived in harmony with Nature, the result will be not only the destruction of Earth but the destruction of our species (here’s an interesting article for your reading pleasure on the topic).
I personally believe that this split will represent a new chapter in evolution. It will not be a physical evolution but, more significantly, a spiritual revolution that will result in a new species of humanity--Homo novus. Those who are among the Awakened have the best chance of contributing to this new branch of the evolutionary tree, as well as the best chance of saving their very spirits from the trap of selfishness and short-sightedness that will be the dead end for Homo sapiens, a species that foolishly believes itself to be at the apex of evolution.
Although there is nothing wrong with meditation (I recommend it), I won’t tell you to do that. What I’ve written above is meant to help you see what is going on and help you understand your anger and frustration.
You should recognize, too, that hatred only hurts the hater in the end. You have already seen that happening to you. You identify yourself as, fundamentally, a kind and peaceful person, but your hatred is changing you, and not in a good way.
Instead of hatred, therefore, actively seek enlightenment. Awaken your spirit to the Big Picture and actively move yourself to evolve toward the Homo novus state of being.
One last note: I recently attended Biggest Little Furcon in Reno with my mate, Yogi. He’s a bit older than me and recalls the 60s better than I do (I was born in ’65). Anyway, we were walking down the hallway and he observed that furries reminded him a lot of the Hippies of the 60s. “Free spirits” he called them; people not locked into the conservative, socially acceptable and mandated ways of our modern world. Part of this observation might also have been inspired by the con’s theme, which was a kind of Big Brother Meets Furry thing (by the way, BLFC imbued the con with the selected theme better than any furcon I’ve attended before—bravo).
I think that a lot of furries get it (which is why it bothers me that too many of them anesthetize their brains with obsessive game play; some gaming is fine, but too much is a trap and a waste of life, and it also plays into the hands of the corporations seeking to suck people dry of their money). I think a lot of furries, however, understand they have to walk a new path to find happiness and a connection to Nature and the brothers and sisters who share this planet with us.
I hope that helps.
Hugs from the Bear,
Hi there, Papa!
Getting straight to the point would probably be the best thing. This is my first letter to you, so I'm sorry if I do something wrong!
Recently, I've found myself a mate. A really sweet guy. I've known him for roughly a year, had a crush on him for about half a year, and we've been together for about a quarter of a year.
We've talked, video chatted, and have plans to meet up soon, as he's not that far away. My problem's gonna sound kinda funny, but hear me out, please.
Now, I've never been in love, or even liked someone as much as I do. You can probably tell by my age. I don't know how to handle liking someone like this, and it's kinda scary. Will I do something wrong? What if I mess up and say something very contradicting to his beliefs, and he doesn't like me anymore? I don't know how to lead something like this, or even take a back seat and let him lead it.
Second, emotions this strong are messing me up. I'm normally a pretty unemotional person, but now I'm finding myself daydreaming about a future with him like a dumb middle school girl and her boy band singer. We haven't even met up in real life once, and I'm already acting like this! I don't know how to handle it. Is it weird, for a high schooler to be acting this whimsical? I know perfectly well this whole thing we have going could flop, but dang, try telling my imagination that.
What do I do to try and keep a healthy relationship? How do I quit fantasizing these impossible things? Is it weird? So many questions. I'm so new to this.
Thanks in advance. I love the work you do here, and I WILL be purchasing your furry book.
Your fennec, Genesis (age 15)
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What you’re going through is very normal for a girl your age. Since I don’t know the guy you’ve fallen for, and since you don’t describe him or say what about him attracts you, this letter will be about young love in general.
Young love—particularly that first head-over-heels love—is an amazing thing. It’s like your first taste of a chocolate milkshake ever, or the first time you see a double rainbow, or the first time you ever go on a rollercoaster ride or an airplane. It’s new, it’s exciting, it gives you a rush, especially when you have your first kiss or first dance. You’ve never felt this swelling of emotions before and they can both excite and confuse you. This can also cause you to make silly mistakes, and the other potential hazard is idealizing your newfound mate and making him into something he’s not—the old knight-in-shining-armor-on-a-white-steed syndrome.
Let’s talk about mistakes first, since you brought up that fear. I’m going to both scare and reassure you here: you will make mistakes; I guarantee it. Everyone makes mistakes in relationships. And, know what? It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how you’ll learn and grow. Interestingly, making mistakes will also help you find a true love. How? A bad match will run away from you when you eventually, inevitably, make that mistake, but a true love will forgive you and understand it was a mistake and stay by you. In return, you need to do the same for him when he makes a mistake. As long as these mistakes are honest ones and not something that is deliberately hurtful, they should be forgiven.
The other thing I mentioned was idealizing your mate. If you put him on a pedestal and think he’s a perfect angel you run the risk of thinking he can do no wrong. This can be dangerous because it can blind you to problems that should be addressed and not ignored.
To answer your questions, then: no, it’s not weird at all for you to act like this; many young people go through this romantic first love stage. Go ahead and fantasize about it if you like; there’s no harm in that as long as you recognize such daydreaming as fantasy. I’m glad you’re planning to meet your love interest. A big reason why I tell my readers that long-distance relationships are not a good plan is because virtual relationships are easier to idealize. By meeting the person in real life you will have a much better chance of seeing who he really is. Maybe not at first, not immediately, but given enough time, you’ll see him, warts and all.
A healthy relationship comes when you each see the other person for who she/he really is, and you love him/her despite the flaws that everyone has because that person has the kind of heart and soul you’re searching for.
The last thing to recognize here—in all hard fact—is that almost no one on the planet has ever fallen in love at 15 and stayed with that first love through dating, engagement, marriage, kids, retirement, till death do they part. Far more common will be for you to have several people you fall for—or think you may fall for—before you find that true partner. And, even when you do get married, there’s more than a 50% chance you won’t stay that way.
Real relationships are very hard and take a lot of work. They aren’t about just having a good time together, as I’ll bet you know already. So, as soon as you hit that first bump, recognize it for reality, and that will likely cure you of those romanticized daydreams pretty quickly. Once that sheen has worn off like the new car smell that’s been sprayed into a used automobile, you’ll either be left with a real, deeper love, or you will recognize that this guy really isn’t for you after all.
No way of telling that for sure until you take the plunge! Go ahead and meet this guy. Have fun! Go on dates. Expect to make mistakes, and don’t worry about it; just do your best to fix them after you’ve made them. As for leading or being led: the best dancing pairs complement each other, dancing equally well. I don’t know if you know who Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were (probably not; they’re way ahead of your time), but he was one of the best dancers of his day, and Ginger was very nervous about being his dancing partner when she was selected to costar with him in their first film. Well, she stepped up to the challenge, and later she told people that, yes, Fred was amazing, and he got most of the credit, but “I did everything he did—backwards and in high heels!”
Last word: don’t worry where this is going, dear. You are waaaaaaaaaaaay too young to be thinking about that. Instead, enjoy your youth. Nay, embrace it. You will never be 15 again. Experience love, life, and, yes, even a bit of tragedy and heartbreak. Life is intense. Don’t spoil it with worry. Just live it.
I am close friends online with one of my friends, Cord, a rabbit. The both of us will sometimes talk about things, like our future in the fandom, our future mates, etc. Cord has been depressed lately due to loneliness and not having a mate. Having dealt with depression myself, I try to cheer him up, and let him know he isn't alone. He always says he feels fine, but I feel like he's saying that so not to worry me. He just recently told me that he has been drinking, at only 18 years of age. This worries me immensely, and, as a Christian, I often focus the majority of my prayer into helping him get better. He's an amazing person, and I don't want to lose him. Is there anything I can do or say to encourage him to stop???
Beeter (age 18)
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Yes, there are things you can say to your friend Cord. But first, you need to have the full story, which I don’t feel I’m getting here (my bear instinct kicking in). You say Cord is depressed because he doesn’t have a girlfriend, so his solution is to start drinking? Lots of people don’t have girlfriends at 18 and they don’t turn to alcohol. Yes, being alone can suck, but he’s too young to throw up his hands and give up, and if he really wants to attract a girl, he ain’t gonna do it by being a drunk. Obviously, that just makes matters worse.
Might there be something else going on here? How’s his family life? School? Does he have any mental or emotional problems that need attention? All these things are important to find out. Your instinct that he’s hiding something when he says he feels fine is probably correct, and I don’t think his troubles begin and end with girlfriend issues and booze.
So, what do you say? First off, always acknowledge the other person’s pain; validate the fact that he is suffering and never dismiss his emotions like a high school coach telling an injured athlete to shake it off and do 10 laps. Avoid platitudes like “Everything will be okay” or “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” They don’t help.
Next, tell him, if you haven’t already, that you’re concerned about him, especially his drinking, but don’t use judgmental words such as “it’s a sin” or “underage drinking is illegal”; that’s not telling him something he doesn’t know or is aware that others will say. But note what I said above about drinking not being a solution but rather, indeed, something that will make his life worse—just as if he were taking drugs. In other words, phrase it in a way that you are concerned about his health, not his moral standards.
Then just start talking to him, trying to get him to open up. Ask him what’s going on in his life. How are his parents, siblings? School? Just talk. If you talk long enough and make him comfortable enough, I’ll bet you something will pop up in the conversation you didn’t know about him. You will know it when you hear it. Now, be careful not to instantly jump in with advice. If you do, he’ll get defensive and close up again, and it will be harder to have him open up the next time. Instead, keep talking around the issue and just listen to what he has to say. Continue in this manner over days or weeks, whatever is needed. Eventually, if things go well, he might ask you that key question, “What would you do if you were me?” And you say, “Well, if it were me, I would....”
This is a tricky dance you are conducting, and it takes a lot of patience. If you’re up for it, you will prove yourself a true blue friend.
Good luck, and bear hugs to you!
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Hello Papa Bear.
This is Beeter again. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my letter and write me back, it means a lot. In response to your response, I have told my friend about my concern for him. Not just my concern, but the concern of another friend of ours. He says he appreciates our feelings, but "he's fine". You may very well be right about him hiding something, and I don't know what, but I will still be as good a friend to him as I can. I don't tell him things like "it's a sin" or whatnot. One of the main things I hate about Christians today is that they run around telling everyone "you're going to hell for this bla bla bla" It's total crap. As followers of Jesus, we should be spreading love, not hate. I try to simply ask him how he's feeling, and I try my best to cheer him up if he's feeling down. About the relationship thing, he's a very passionate floof, when I say he wants a guy in his life, I mean he REALLY wants a guy in his life. We often talk about our lives at home and school, and it almost always shifts to our futures in school, in the fandom, and most often our future mates. I don't know why, I guess we both just really crave love, you know? I will take your advice, and thank you again for replying to me. God bless you, and have an amazing day, buddy.
Your friend, Beeter.
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Congrats on being what I would call a "true Christian" who is not the type to throw stones. Good for you!
You and your pal are very loving beings. That's wonderful :-) And I understand your need for love. If you don't mind indulging me, I would like to offer a bit more advice.
When we are desperate for love our desperation becomes very evident to the people around us. Did you know that humans, just like other animals, are capable of emitting pheromones? This can, on one hand, signal receptiveness to being a mate, but when one is desperate, anxious for love, it can actually drive potential mates away. The more desperate you become, the more repulsive you become--from a chemical point of view.
Therefore, the best advice I can give your friend is he needs to play it cool, chill, become more bear-like. He should then complement this strategy to make himself the most attractive potential mate possible. I don't mean physically attractive (except for the importance of good hygiene and grooming), but attractive as a person. Think of it this way: what is the better way to catch fish in a stream? Plunge into the stream, stomping about, clumsily grasping for the fish and they scatter? That is the strategy he has been attempting thus far. Or, is it better to create an attractive fishing lure, then drop it gently into the stream and attract the fish to you?
You're a good friend, Beeter. I'm glad your buddy has you in his life. Good luck to you both.
Dear Papa Bear,
I wrote to you before about a topic I'd rather not bring up again and your advice really helped. And now I'm hoping you can help me again.
I'm stuck in a depression that borderlines suicidal (not exactly there yet) mainly because I'm not happy living where I currently am. I plan to move out soon, but at the current moment I have nowhere to go. My parents don’t want me moving back in with them, and plans I had made with 2 different furs fell through for reasons I won’t get into. According to my therapist, I'm not mentally fit to live on my own and I don’t really get along with anyone outside of the fandom. My problem is that if I stay in my current living situation any longer I will reach the point where I'm winding up in an insane asylum because I’m either plotting to kill myself or my roommates. They stress me out to the point where I can’t function in society, and they make me feel like ... well ... they make me feel like I'm worthless ... especially since one has the worst self-esteem issues I've ever seen and the other is constantly criticizing me for not doing anything exactly the way he wants it because of his OCD. And it doesn’t help that they smoke weed on a regular basis (one more than the other). It doesn’t help that I have a mess of mental disabilities that hinder my thought process (bipolar and schizophrenia to name 2). I'm so stressed out that I feel like I have a rock in my throat that will never be removed. I tried to talk to my therapist about this but all I get every time I talk to her about it is that I should try to work things out to the best of my ability, which I do with no results. I'm wondering if you know any resources for furs looking for roommates or any resources for furs that are in a state that I'm in. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Whenever someone writes to me and feels they might be suicidal, that letter goes to the top of the pile. First question: have you tried calling a suicide hotline? Calling one doesn't mean you're about to kill yourself, but even if you're just contemplating it, you should call. They have excellent counselors online.
1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Second, fire your therapist and find someone else. Just because this person is a therapist doesn't mean they are a good one. Just like a doctor, it can be worth shopping around for one who works for you.
Next question: are you on any meds? If so, it might be a matter of adjusting dosages or switching medications; if not, you might want to explore that option.
Next: are you obtaining any help from government sources? It sounds like you could qualify for disability SSI. Are you receiving any currently? Obtaining some financial support may help lower stress.
Next: you need to try to change your environment. Clearly, your current one is detrimental to you. I don't mean go rushing out the door (and, Mom and Dad are not an option), but just start looking for a new living arrangement. Even just the process of knowing you're planning to move and that you aren't trapped can elevate your spirits.
Finally: don't forget to lean on your furry friends for comfort and emotional support.
I hope this helps. If not, feel free to write again and I will try my best to help out! If it gets really bad, you can call me.
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Hi papa bear.
I got your response to my letter and I spoke to a suicide specialist. They seem to think the same as you that I need a change in environment. And to answer some of your questions, yes, I receive SSI at the current moment but it constantly gets lowered because my roommates keep making changes to my living arrangements (as I am currently not paying rent); plus, recently they had me apply for food stamps ... so that docked me down another 100 dollars ... and as far as my meds: I receive meds for all my ailments (including my HIV that I wrote to you about at an earlier date.) But I really wanna live with someone who can understand what I'm going through as far as my social life. My furry life is important to me. It’s really all I have. Which is why I was asking about resources for furries searching for roommates and such. My fur parents were one of the furs I spoke about in my last letter, but they can’t keep me at this current moment.... I was hoping you could help me in any way you possibly can. Sorry for sounding needy, but this depression is really killing me. Hope to hear back form you.
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It might be a good idea to talk to your therapist about antidepressants. It really sounds as if you might need them. I don’t like telling people they should go on medications, but in this case it might be very important to do so. Ask your doctor about mood elevators.
You need to take a step back and realize, too, what you’re asking here concerning roommates. You are looking, ideally, for someone to live with who is not only a furry but who is willing to live with someone with HIV and whatever other ailments you have, is living off SSI and food stamps, has a history of depression, and might be suicidal or even homicidal. It is kind of a tall order. If you go on a roommate hunt, would you hide these facts and then divulge them later (or at all) to your new roommate, or would you confess them up front in hopes of finding a saint willing to live in the same apartment or house as you? Just be aware of what you’re asking here. I really would recommend you get your emotions in order first before looking for a new roommate. That might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but it will greatly increase your chances of changing living arrangements.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t know of any furry roommate matching service. I think it would be a great idea, though, for someone to create one, and I sent an email to my advertiser FurryMate to see if they’d be willing to set one up.
Other than that, what you can do is go to all the furry social sites out there and announce that you are seeking a roommate in your area and just see what happens. Word of mouth can spread like a virus, and there very well could be someone just like you in your area looking for the same thing.
And to readers of this column, if you are seeking a roommate or know someone who is in Missouri, please contact me and I’ll forward the information to Smokey.
Wish I could be of more help, but hopefully I have given you some nudges in the right direction.
I have met this other fur on FA who has become my first ever crush (albeit online). We’ve been sending notes to one another for nearly 3 months now, and have written to each other about just about everything, from our hobbies and interests, to our dreams and fears, to our values in life (which is where we have the most similarities). We’ve even written to one another about how we could compromise on the sexual side of it all, given he’s gay and I’m asexual. And, even though we haven’t met in the face yet, he is local (which is why I watched him in the first place) and we’re hoping to meet one another once I get my Uni studies out of the way. Just being able to write to him and read what he’s written back has been bliss!
Now, I've always been under the impression that “love is a force of nature” and that, I'd be better off letting love find me rather than waste time trying to find it. And, I've been happy thinking that way about love ever since.
Yet, after listening to what someone said on TV, I was lead to reading a few web articles which said that love was actually a “choice,” and that we as people set ourselves on our own paths to find someone we would like to fall in love with, in turn choosing to love that person. I find it really uncomfortable to think that the fact I have a crush in this guy is merely a choice of mine.
Yes, I chose to watch him on FA. Yes, I chose to respond to his journal post. Yes, we chose to be open to one another about how we felt. And yes, I chose to bring up the idea of us meeting each other. All of those things are conscious decisions I know I have made either by myself or alongside him. But that feeling inside of me, that warmth and happiness I get whenever I think about him or read one of his notes to me, that desire to get close to him and be by his side... that can't be a choice! Surely not?!
And on top of that, I use the idea that love is a force of nature to justify there being no wrong in same-sex relationships, in that no one would choose to be gay or a lesbian because, as far as I was concerned, no one can choose who they fall in love with. I believed in this even more when I started to get the crush on this guy since I actually define myself as demi-heteroromantic. Whilst I had no ambition to go and find someone to have a crush on, I was for certain that when that time came around, it would be with a woman (I have been attracted to people in the past, the vast, VAST majority of which were women, but not once have I ever been aroused by someone of either gender, nor have I become unable to push the thought of them out of my mind). So, even if I was subconsciously on the hunt for someone to be with, I certainly wasn't looking for that person to be male.
With that said, I am open to it being a man since I'm a very keen believer of Sigmund Freud's theory of innate bisexuality (although I'd prefer to refer of this as innate bi-romanticism seeing as we asexuals think of sexual attraction and romantic attraction as separate things). His theory was that we're all born bisexual and that whilst most of us become monosexual as we grow up, that little bit of bi sticks with us for life. So I have no problem with my first crush being on a man, I'm just a little surprised.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I don’t want to believe I’m getting a crush on him by choice because I never chose to look for someone to have a crush on, let alone someone of the same sex.
I suppose what I'm looking for here is an opinion more than a piece of advice, even though it does disturb me to think that the fact I have a crush on him might be a choice and not an instinct. I don’t know whether or not love at first sight exists, but I was pretty sure up until now that love was beyond our control. I think I’ve got enough ‘evidence’ to say that love isn’t a choice, but perhaps I’m missing something here and it hasn’t clicked in my brain yet.
What do you think? Is love something that happens to us as part of nature, or do we choose to love someone?
* * *
An excellent question. Before I provide my opinion, let’s define some things so that there is no confusion because it sounds like you’re combining a few different sides to attraction.
First, let’s not confuse romantic choice with sexual proclivities—that is, there’s a big difference between saying love is a choice and homo- or heterosexuality is a choice. Homosexuality is not a choice. You know that, but I just want to be clear here.
Second, asexual people aren’t the only ones who believe romantic and sexual attraction are two different things; they definitely are two different things. There are, of course, people who would say that “falling in love” is a biochemical reaction produced after getting a high from making love to someone. That’s pretty clinical, though, and I reject it.
One can say that, given enough exposure to someone, you can fall in love slowly over time. Just the other night I went to see the musical Fiddler on the Roof. In it, there’s a song in which Tevye asks his wife, Golde, whom he married per an arrangement between their families, if she loves him after 25 years together. After a few minutes of singing, she admits, “I suppose I do.” They have grown to love each other.
An old saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I, on the other hand, believe that as you get to know someone—really know someone—it can lead to love. Many a romantic movie comedy begins with a man and a woman who despise each other being thrown together by some crazy situation that leads them to see into each other’s hearts and fall in love (I give you just about any Jennifer Aniston or Sandra Bullock film).
Love can come from choice, and it can come from exposure over time. And, yes, sometimes there is such a thing as love at first sight, but usually that is just infatuation and fascination that can crumble to pieces once you get to know the other person. If you don’t mind another analogy, I think the Disney film Enchanted does a good job on that one. At the beginning of the movie, Giselle falls instantly in love with Prince Edward in a hyper-romanticized scenario that is played to be deliberately ridiculous. Then, Giselle is tossed into our world and runs into Robert. They aren’t in love at first, but getting to know each other, they fall in true love and Giselle realizes that Edward really isn’t the person she needs in her life.
On the other paw, people can fall in love—even be in love for years—and then fall out of love (hence today’s divorce rate). That they divorce doesn’t mean their initial love wasn’t genuine, but many times people, as they say, grow apart, become much different over time, and are no longer a match (I still tear up when Neil Diamond and Babs sing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore”).
As you likely know, Papabear gets many letters about love and the search for true love. I typically advise them to do what they can to increase their chances of finding the right person by interacting with people out in the real world pursuing hobbies and other activities. Sometimes, too, an initial match can be made online (though 100% virtual relationships are far from ideal), which is what you have done. You have found someone who shares a lot of your same interests and qualities, and now you are ready for the next step: meeting them in person.
There is nothing wrong with this approach at all. It doesn’t mean you are artificially manufacturing a feeling of love; it means you have optimized your chances of finding someone whom you can love.
The next test is to actually be with that person. At that point, you might discover that you really don’t click; or, hopefully, you will see that the real-life person is just as good or even better than you imagined online. Your heart will swell and you will be in love.
Am I confusing you? Let me put it this way: the people on TV are wrong. Love isn’t an ON/OFF switch that you decide to flick or not. You can, however, choose to alter your behavior in ways that increase your chances of finding people you could fall in love with. That never guarantees love, but it is the best thing to do, and that’s what you’ve done. You found someone and the two of you clicked and then you fell—or are falling—in love. You could just as easily have met the same guy and no chemistry happened.
What pushes us over that edge from merely liking someone to loving him or her? There are a lot of things that attract people: good looks, money, power, cultural similarities. But none of those things leads to real love. In fact, sometimes people scratch their heads and look at a couple and think, “What do they see in each other?” “He’s terrible for her!” “She’s a no-good bum!” But they love each other anyway. Sometimes, love has no reason. It hits you out of the blue when you least expect it, as Dean Martin once sang, “When the sun hits your eye like big pizza pie, that’s amore!” Sometimes, love at first sight does lead to something special.
Real love happens when you are able to connect to the other person emotionally, when you see past the surface and feel their heart. It is, frankly, a spiritual experience. Two souls connecting. That can happen in an instant, or it can take 25 years. There’s no telling. It is beyond our control That’s what makes love so cray-cray amazing :-D
Don’t listen to TV. They call it the Boob Tube for a reason.
Wishing you love,
I finally realized how wrong I was. I wasted my childhood viewing those stupid cartoons on television, and now look at me- I am stuck, mentally damaged, in a bipolar cycle of alternately loving and hating anthropomorphic characters. How criminal of me to have acquired a taste for them, when art and literature have always functioned well with plain humans! Something went wrong in my psycho-social development. Here comes the question of this form: How could I have been so deluded as to pursue "fun" and "fantasy" when I could have chosen a much better course in my life? I deserve the death penalty (though I am a coward) for giving decadent entertainment a presence in my life since childhood, and worse, I contaminated myself by imagining sexual scenarios with said monsters (that's what a human-animal hybrid would truly be, despite my brainwashing myself to believe the contrary). I blamed others (which is what you reminded me of- thank you very much for your wisdom), but in truth, I chose to make my imagination and thinking defective, and I became a horrible, detestable shell of a man- when I could have been a beautiful person. I'm one living example of how dangerous the constructs of the mind can be. Someone from my family should give me the brutal, merciless punishment I deserve. May I atone for my deviancy, and for denigrating the importance of the authentic human figure that has sustained any art worth its salt. May hatred and harsh judgment rain down on me for insouciantly ignoring personal responsibility. I give you my gratitude for your insights and kind disposition.
- the former Joaquin Claro
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Dear Former Joaquin,
Your previous letter complained about furry art being of low quality, so I replied to that you should not be so harsh toward amateur artists who were simply drawing things they loved. From your new letter, however, I can see that your criticism of furry art was merely a cover for your own self-loathing—something I had no idea was happening to you. It was never my intention to make you feel bad about yourself, and if that is what I did, I truly apologize. You are clearly feeling guilty about liking furry art and, apparently, also being sexually aroused by it.
I would submit to you that your guilt and self-hatred is caused because you feel bad that your own preferences do not coincide with those of people around you—family, friends, colleagues. That you have this interest is in no way deserving of the death penalty! And it certainly isn’t “criminal” in any way. Please calm down and stop overreacting. Take a deep breath.
You say you are caught in a cycle of loving, then hating furry art. You love the furry art because that is simply something you enjoy; you then hate the furry art because society makes you feel guilty for liking it.
Like furry art is in no way responsible for whatever course your life has taken. Plenty of furry fans live peaceful, happy, productive lives because for them it is not about porn. I wonder, therefore, if your problem isn’t that you like furry art, but perhaps you allowed yourself to become obsessed by it. That is, addicted. As with an addiction to “normal” porn, or to things like gambling, alcohol, or drugs, an addiction can be quite damaging to your life.
If the problem, therefore, is that you are too obsessed with this art, you need to slowly reduce your time looking at it and reading about it. Then, substitute the furporn with G-rated furry art (there’s lots of it) or with other art that’s not furry.
While your two letters have been about adult furry art, I really believe that there is something else going on here in your life that you are not telling me, and that this is what is truly bothering you. Most likely, it has something to do with your family life as a child. There was likely something really bothering you as a kid, which led to an obsession with cartoons as escapism, and then, as you reached puberty, turned into a sexual aspect.
You have a lot of anger in you, which is sad. You are diverting that anger into furporn and blaming it for your problems. While addiction to porn is not a good thing, I think you need to look deeper into what is truly bothering you. Only then will you be able to overcome your anger and self-hatred. If you don’t mind my saying so, you might consider seeking some personal counseling to get at the heart of the matter.
I Wish You Well,
[Papabear note: I received the following letter after writing this column. It really made my day!]
I hope I'm not being a bother, but I wanted to share with you my "parenting win" last night.
When my son got home from school, I pulled him aside and told him that I had looked through his phone the other night (as he knows I do occasionally, to spot check) and saw some of his chat discussions where he was talking about being a Furry. I told him initially, it scared the hell out of me. He began to get very defensive, very quickly and I was able to grab his attention long enough to get him to look at my phone, where I showed him the letter I sent you yesterday, asking for insight.
He read it slowly and quietly- I could tell it was taking him a minute to try and figure out what he was reading. Then he asked what it was. I told him that I tried to research what being a Furry was. And I found your website. That I wanted to understand.
In my snooping thru his phone, I had read some entries where he expressed feeling alone and misunderstood. And fears of his family not understanding him. I told him that while I may never fully "get" things he is into and enjoys- I sure as hell will always try my best. I may never know which Pokemon evolve into what- I may never master the PS4 game controller and I'll most likely never play D & D- But I will always try. I can't play the trumpet, but I sure as hell am Band Booster President- I try. And then I said- what I do understand about the Furry community- I'm totally ok with, and I can understand why he takes interest in it, and that it really does fall in line with all his other interests. But, like most things, there can be a side that he just has no business being involved in- and as long as he steers clear of the sexual side of it- I am 100% ok with it.
We have a rule, no online chatting with strangers. He clearly had broken that rule- But I had decided not to take his priveleges away from him. That surprised his a great deal. He had not broken any cardinal rules of giving out personal details- even not exchanging his photo when asked. With that he was responsible- He has an online comminity of like-minded people, that he can't get in our "real- world" community. I can't take that safe haven away from him.
I briefly mentioned that just because you find safety in a group of people, doesn't necissarily mean they all have your best interest at heart. To be aware that there are people out there that use the internet and special interest groups to prey on kids and those with weak souls. To just be aware and use his spidey sense.
Then I told him, I love him for him- in what ever form that may take. If he is a good person, kind to others, taking care of his responsibilities (grades, chores, self care, etc) then he can run around with animal ears and a tail if he so chooses, and I will never think less of him for it.
My son's eyes welled up with tears, he threw his arms around me and just said "thank you".
So, for that, I thank YOU. I still have a lot to learn, but you took the time to give me some much needed reassurance and a pep talk. The little I know about you from your website, I can only imagine that you have been through some challenges of your own. The time you take to help clueless moms like me, matters. Thank you.
* * *
You are an amazing mom! Do not thank me. That you had this bonding moment with your son is all on you. I hereby declare you an "Honorary Furry Mom"!
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.