So for as long as I can remember I've really wanted to be a teacher; they helped me so much in school and I knew I wanted to be able to help others.
The problem is being furry. I'm not public and any videos of me at fur cons is limited to my face (which I'm not worried about).
I'm more worried about my being linked to my actual account. There IS adult art/stories attached to it, and I know how people outside the fandom tend to overanalyze it as something more than it is.
Any advice, or should I look into doing something else with my life?
Vojeto (age 21)
* * *
It’s certainly possible to be a furry and have a career in any number of fields, but this can be a little trickier if the job involves minors, such as being a teacher at the high school or lower level. The issue there isn’t so much that you’re a furry but that it can be perceived that you are some sort of pedophile. Of course, if you have any babyfur preferences, that would be a huge red flag. But even without that, many people consider furry some kind of fetish thing, and that can, indeed, cause you headaches.
All 50 U.S. states require school systems to do background checks on teachers (both current and potential hires). They check, of course, for any criminal history, but also credit history, bankruptcies, employment records, medical records, civil records, education certification, driving records, history of where you have lived, and so on. Schools might hire independent agencies to do background checks, and prices vary depending on how deeply they want to go into your history. I honestly don't know if such services scan the Internet to see if they find any prurient website accounts, but you never know.
I’d like to pause here and ask you this: is it essential that you be a teacher in a public school system in order for you to be happy? Before you answer that, I would advise you to talk to some actual teachers (especially retired ones who can speak more freely). The ones I have known who have worked in public schools have been extremely unhappy, many of them quit or retire early. It’s not because of the students (they love the students), but, rather, the administrators they deal with and the government interference in the education process. The bureaucracy and the restrictions on the freedom to teach have become so heinous that literally every teacher I have known who taught grade school through high school said that they couldn’t take it anymore.
Now, this improves somewhat at the college level, but not much. My sister is a college professor, and while she has more freedom to teach she spends so much time on administrative work—as do her colleagues—that the joke among them is “teaching is something we do when we have spare time.”
While I don’t want to discourage you, and I think teaching is a noble profession, I do advise you to look deeply into what you are getting into. The American education system is a shambles. If you do go into that setting, you should definitely, at minimum, keep any and all furporn off sites associated with your account.
Alternatively, you could have a very different experience in a private school setting, so you might want to look into that. And there are many other ways to have a fulfilling career outside the public school system (take a look at the list here). If you become a private tutor, help with home-schooled children, or teach GED students, you could not only find a career that avoids the hazards of dealing with public administrators, but some of these alternatives could be less likely to interfere with your furry life (although, when working with any education company, there will still be background checks).
In addition to the above, teaching is, of course, not limited to the ‘Riting, Reading, ‘Rithmetic trio. I’m not sure what subjects interest you, but teaching can involve everything from being an acting coach to a yoga instructor. Again, if you pursue a more private, independent career you are less likely to have people nosing around in your furry life. Oh, and don’t ignore the possibility of teaching adult students, too!
Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!
P.S. I would love to know if any of my furry readers are also teachers and what their experiences have been!
Back in 2011, my father died on Christmas morning. After saying my last good bye, some people took him away in a body bag. The rest of my Family came over my house that day, and they took all of the stuff that my Dad said that he would give to me and my sister when he died (a MAC, a flat screen TV, Money, and other valuable things). A week later, I found out that my aunt made my dad drink in order to sign a contract saying that she would get all of his money when he died, and my dad didn’t know what he was doing because of course, he was drunk.
Many years have passed now, I’m a teenager, I’m going to get a job in 3 months, and I’m growing up in general. But the question is, how do I move on, and forget about all the bad stuff in my life. I’ve been taking anti-depression pills, but I’m still depressed, and I don’t like being sad. I’ve seen a counselor, but that didn’t help either...
What do I do about my depression?
Excalibur (age 13)
* * *
Apologies for my delayed reply, and I'm very sorry for your loss. Interesting story you relate here, and it has parallels with some that I have come across in my life. For example, when my ex-wife’s grandmother had died, her relatives swooped into the house, destroyed or hid the original will, and took what they wanted. All my ex wanted was a set of dishes that her grandmother had promised her (she wasn’t looking for money), but her relatives took those, as well. In another story, a friend of mine was very close to a man named Butch for years and years. Well, a gold-digging jerk came into Butch’s life and, as Butch was weak and dying from AIDS, got Butch to change his will at the last minute so that everything went to him, even though they had only been lovers for a couple years. None of Butch’s other family and friends got a thing. Another story: when my mate Yogi’s first husband died of heart failure his mother burned all of his photos because she hated her own son for being gay. Yogi thus lost all of those precious photos.
Your story is, sadly, not unique. People can be extremely petty and greedy, and relatives who should be loving and caring often turn out to be materialistic dirt bags. The thing is, hon, if you allow your relatives’ bad behavior to depress you, then they will have defeated you not only in grabbing material goods but also by emotionally manipulating you.
The way out of your depression is to realize that you are a better person than that. Let them have the Mac and the money, or whatever. It won’t fill their empty souls or turn their charcoal hearts into diamonds.
Focus, instead, on the love you had—and still have—for your dad. No one can take memories away. Do you have photos? Videos? Cherish those, too.
You can defeat your depression by acknowledging what is important in life. Your relatives think what is important is stuff and money. You must realize that the only thing in life that is truly important is love—genuine, unselfish love—and the kindness that it brings.
You can’t change people who are determined to be petty and small and hateful. But you can change your reaction to them, and the best way to do that is to let it be. Let them have their stuff. He will always be your father, and they can never take that away from you.
I find, when my soul is troubled, that the best cure is to go out into the world and love. Love other people, love animals, be kind to nature, do something spontaneously nice for someone else with no desire for reciprocation and your soul will be filled to overflowing and your depression will become a distant memory.
Remember the letter I sent you some months back? Anyways. I was really surprised that the letter got so much attention that another person decided to write a blog regarding said issue... I guess its time I ought to say what's been going on now.
Two weeks ago, I recently came out to my Mom on Facebook after the announcement that the US said that we can marry anyone we like. The constant outcry on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media is kinda what drove me to this state to tell her, and I couldn't stand the pressure any longer.
As per usual, she told me that she could not wrap her arms around it. (Embrace me, being gay) But to be honest, I kinda expected that. Her having Christian values and whatnot makes things difficult especially with one is a "non-denominational" Christian. Or in this case: part of this church.
Anyways, I have Facebook screenshots, text messages and even recorded phone calls in case I'm missing anything, and she doesn't believe that I was born this way. She has hampered me down with, "come back to the light of truth", and "bad company corrupts good character", which in my opinion, I don't think being gay considers being a bad character, unless for instance you happen to do things that qualify as being a "prick", excuse my language. I have tons to share with you if I could. But I don't think its necessary. She basically told me that I'm grasping for an identity that and she told me to develop the one I have. But I have told her time and time again that I'm not heterosexual and I've suppressed it years ago, and started questioning since October of last year.
I did not yell or argue at her. I was being very patient and listening to what she had to say, however eye-rolling it may be to listen. But I wouldn't retort back if someone were to say "you're going to hell", because that's not the kind of person I am. I love my Mom, whether if she were to disown me or not. That's what love is, its not just "I love you, on one condition", its UNCONDITIONAL. And I don't want to push her away because I love her very, very much. And I feel like I'm being selfish choosing my own happiness against what society is all about. Even though, THAT'S THE IDEA, right?
So what do I do? I love my Mom very much and I know she can't accept me being gay. I mean there are a couple other family members who won't accept it, not just her. But she's the MAIN one. I don't want to disappoint her. What's your wisdom on this?
* * *
Yes, I remember your letter :-) And I’m very proud of you for coming out to your mother. Recently, an article was published in Discover magazine (“The Irrationalist in You,” July-August 2015) about how to argue effectively with people who hold views that you understand to be incorrect. One study surveyed people who believed that inoculating their children was dangerous, even lethal. Despite showing them all kinds of scientific studies proving them to be wrong, they still held their original beliefs.
People often hold beliefs not because of evidence or experience but, rather, because of cultural influences and how they were raised. They form cherished systems of how to perceive their world, and when you challenge those beliefs they become fearful because you are questioning their entire worldview. Your mother believes that being gay is a choice and that by accepting Christ you can reject that “choice” and become straight again.
You know this is wrong-headed thinking, but what to do? Well, kudos to you for declaring you love your mother unconditionally; that’s great. But you get a light thwok on the noggin for feeling guilty about choosing your own happiness over “what society is all about.” Society is wrong and it is wrong a lot. So why are you trying to conform to something that you know is wrong? Be as courageous as when you told your mother about your sexuality and stand firm in being yourself.
The Discover article offers several strategies for arguing your case. The first one you already mastered, and that’s listening patiently to what the other person has to say. You also nailed another strategy on the head that the article lists, and that’s discussing the topic in person, rather than online or in a letter.
Another strategy is to relate to the other person on their level, which means using the Bible to argue against her argument. There are about half a dozen passages that Christians use as ammunition against the LGBT community. Four of those passages are from the Old Testament, which the New Testament is supposed to overrule. In other words, Christians should follow the rules in the NT, making rules in the OT obsolete (a good thing, because it contains silly rules such as forbidding the planting of different crops side by side but allowing polygamy). I've actually heard some Christians declare: "I'm an Old Testament Christian." That's nonsense because, if true, it actually means you're Jewish. Christians should follow the new Word of God, not the old.
As for the few NT passages referencing homosexual acts: those were really geared against the Romans, who often engaged in nonconsensual sex with boys and with their slaves. In other words, the NT was really talking about aggressive sex where a man forced himself on a boy or other man. Here is an extremely useful article about this.
Learn the Bible and also the historical context in which it was written and you will be able to use your mother’s Christian perspective to explain that God doesn't command Christians to condemn homosexuals (even the Pope said we shouldn’t judge, noting, too, that Christianity is supposed to be about compassion and love, not being judgmental and hateful to others).
In conjunction with this (and, actually, perhaps before you do the above), ask your mother, specifically, what she knows about what the Bible says about homosexuals. I mean, she needs to point out the passages and reread them. According to the Discover article, when people are asked to explain their beliefs and support them, those beliefs can be swayed toward a more moderate position. You would be surprised how many anti-gay Christians don't even know the Bible and many haven't even read it or have only read parts of it (for a very long time the Catholic Church actually forbade the laity to read the Bible, and many Christians still allow the clergy to interpret it for them instead of reading it closely for themselves [in case you're wondering, yes, Papabear has read the Bible cover to cover]).
Finally, getting passed the Bible, ask her what she knows about the LGBT community. What does she think gay people are all about? Does she think it’s all about having big sex parties? You know what I’m doing right now as I type this? I’m watching reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” as my partner of 10 years plays solitaire on his laptop. Let the bacchanalia begin! Also, just FYI, same-sex couples have a lower divorce rate than hetero couples, according to one study. On that bit of evidence, one might say gay couples are more moral because they tend to not divorce.
One last point made by the article in Discover I’d like to emphasize is the importance of assuring the other person—in this case, Mom—that she is important, valuable, and to be respected. It is vital that her sense of importance, her ego, remain high so that she doesn’t feel under attack or that you are denigrating her in any way. I don’t see this as a problem for you, since you clearly value having her in your life.
All of this is no guarantee you will sway her mind. You can only do your best. It might be that she and the couple other members of your family who have a problem with LGBT people will never understand you. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t love you. You can agree to disagree and still be a family, so keep that in mind. It’s not all or nothing. The best situation would be that she is the one who “sees the light,” but if that doesn’t happen, hopefully she will still leave a light on for you and always accept you as her son.
Dear Papa Bear,
I've written to you once before for advice, and you'll be glad to know it helped a great deal. I've found a small hobby in perler beads to help pass time and build my confidence while I slowly learn how to sew. I've also discovered that, even if I'm not the kind of successful the world wants me to be, I'll still be so if I'm just happy with what I'm doing and how I'm living.
I currently have a job at Wawa, which is close enough for me to walk or bike to, so I can get some exercise in my daily life. I also built a brand new PC, have some money to spare for having fun every so often, and good friends. There is even a very sweet man who loves me (and will never let me forget it). Overall, I'd say things are going well.
However, I find that following these pursuits is difficult. My usual routine involves what I know to be too much time on said PC and not enough on other interests. I believe part of the issue is me working second shift, which is often early afternoon to late night, often getting home around 11pm or midnight. When I visit my friends, it's often for the sake of playing games, largely because our D&D sessions have stalled. (They were a nice change of pace from video gaming.) I enjoy my time with the beads though, and don't worry about any of your 5 “les facteurs de merde” when making objects. It's just fun. Strangely, I specifically wanted to do these things, and never act upon that desire when I end up with the tools/materials necessary.
After buying a $70 sewing machine, it's been sitting and collecting dust and scraps of material.
I've largely attributed said failure to follow my words to my parents and their failure to instill the drive to succeed in me. But am I wrong, and looking for a scapegoat for my own laziness?
To boil it all down, how can I break this addiction and focus more on the other things I enjoy, as well as caring for myself?
Apologies for such a long-winded question, and thank you for taking the time to read through it all.
* * *
I’m glad life is improving for you and that you’re having fun with beading. Perhaps you have moved beyond les facteurs de merde, but you have still been practicing avoidance techniques. One avoidance technique is to fill your time with other activities unrelated to what you believe you wish to do, and then, voilá, you conveniently have no time left to do that thing. This is the case with your playing games with friends and then not having time left for sewing (are you trying to make fursuits?). Another avoidance technique is to buy lots of stuff related to that goal without actually doing the activity itself. I see this with “writers” a lot. Buying books on how to write, buying a new laptop, etc. I’m guilty of it, too, to the point where I once flew to the Maui Writers’ Conference (really fun! but I didn’t write a damn thing while I was there!) as an elaborate way not to actually get the novel done.
In my previous letter to you I advised you to find a mentor or mentors to help encourage you. Have you tried that? It really helps to have people around you who urge you to pursue your creative activity (this is why I pay for piano lessons; if I didn’t have the routine of taking lessons and having an encouraging teacher, my keyboard would probably gather dust in a corner of my office.)
If you just need to break the gaming habit, I can refer you to this column about gaming addiction.
The other thing is to stop blaming others: don’t blame your parents for not instilling in you a drive to succeed, don’t blame friends for making you want to play games with them, don’t blame a bad work schedule, and don’t blame anyone else. This is on you. Only you can sit down and do the activity you supposedly wish to do.
But I can offer you a little trick that might help: create a reward system for yourself. My personal reward system actually depends on others: when I get a thank you letter (or a nice comment like yours at the beginning of your letter) it gives me a rush that makes me not only want to write more columns but increases my enjoyment of doing it. With crafty projects, such as beading, your reward system could be to give finish projects as impromptu gifts to friends and family and then see their eyes light up at the unexpected present. Or, on the somewhat more selfish side, when you finish a project or a milestone of a larger project, buy yourself a little treat, or, perhaps, take a photo of the item you made and post it on a social media site and read the comments from friends. These are called “positive reinforcement” techniques (I don’t recommend negative reinforcement here—ack).
Finally, try to adjust your attitude from negative to the positive (this relates to les facteurs de merde). Again with my piano, when I see myself making progress and getting better, I get more optimistic and this makes me enjoy practice a lot more. I’m guessing that with beading there are certain levels of the craft, too: some beading skills are more complicated and difficult to master, yes? Urge yourself to take your craft to the next level, and then, when you reach that new level of skill, your heart will fill with the pride of accomplishment and this will really drive you to do it more. It’s kind of like a runner’s high. When someone starts running for fitness, it can be very difficult, tedious, discouraging. But, after doing it for a while, you will push through a wall and suddenly it becomes a joy to run (for a lot of people—I, personally, hate running LOL)! You already enjoy beading, but you can increase this joy by challenging yourself to become a master of the craft. Remember, of course, to always do this for your own personal satisfaction.
Dear Papa Bear,
Hi! You answered another one of my questions a few days ago, actually! And, uh, let me tell you, this one is gonna be a lot harder to answer.
So, I'm 13, right? I'm obviously a minor, and should have an adult accompany me to most things. But, it would probably be weird to take your child to a furcon, if they haven't come out as a furry. So, here's where my question comes in.
I have three parents. A biological dad, a biological mom, and a step-dad. I mean, my dad also has a girlfriend, but I'm pretty sure if I came out to her as a furry, she'd be like, "Rock on." Anyway, my mom and my step-dad, let's call him Jack, are really cool, open-minded people. Like, seriously, my mom practices witchcraft, and we go to Pagan festivals constantly. And, Jack is the person who actually asks me about who I am as a person, he is the only parent of mine that knows I'm pansexual. Then, there's my biological dad. Dad really tries to understand me, like, he's tries so freakin' hard to get who I am. But, he's just so...awkward. Like, if I came out to him, I'm pretty sure he would be like, "Oh, uh, well, um, uh, aren't you a little young for that?" and stuff like that. So, I'm going to illustrate my individual concerns for each parent below.
First of all, my mom. I'm certain that my mom would think it was a joke at first, and she wouldn't take me seriously at all. And, while being a furry isn't a thing that has to be taken with a lot of seriousness, it would still be nice to have it be treated as an actual life style. I think she thinks it's just a stupid thing that drunk college kids and creepers do. And, seeing as I'm not either of those, she's most likely going to think I'm joking.
Now, Jack, my step-dad. I think that Jack would understand the most. I think it would be a thing that he just gets, and won't judge me for it, and will still have the same amount of respect he had before. The only problem is that there is a chance he will probe me about it. Continue to ask questions, and things. I don't wanna have to be put through that!
And, for the worst, my dad. As I said before, Dad is really awkward. Like, astronomical levels of awkward. I can't even begin to imagine what he would think if I told him. He'd think I was too young for all that. I'm pretty sure that he thinks the furry community is just about sex and fetishism. He wouldn't outright say that he thinks that, so I wouldn't know how to put his mind at ease about it.
This whole situation is quite messy. Really, the only reason I want all of them to know is so I can make a fursuit and go to furcons. But, I also want to let my girlfriend know about this, but I think I'll save that question for another time.
* * *
Welcome to the fandom. Gosh, it’s letters like yours that make me wish I was done with my book about the fandom so I could just tell you to get a copy and have it all explained. Sadly, I’m still in the research process and it won’t be done until next year, so here’s what you do in the meantime.
First and foremost, we need to get rid of the notion that being a furry is all about a fetish. It isn’t. It is so much more: depending upon the person, it’s about community (making friends!), it’s about fun, it can be about spiritualism, it can be seen as a hobby (akin to being a comic book fan who attends ComicCon), it can be seen as being in touch with your true self and about letting your inner self shine, it can be about art and literature and movies and TV shows, and on and on and on. Yes, there is X-rated art out there, but that’s just the part of it that gets attention from people (especially Americans) because the media and protective parents always gravitate toward what is sensationalistic and provocative rather than what has substance (this is why Caitlyn Jenner was given an ESPY award for “courage” because he—sorry, she, even though she still has male parts—declared she was a woman on TV and got a heavily Photoshopped picture on Vanity Fair, rather than giving it to the late Lauren Hill, who was truly brave in battling brain cancer while fighting to play basketball on her high school team [she was painfully ignored])..... Oh, dear, Papabear will probably get some hate mail now LOL. For the record, I have nothing against Jenner and it’s fine for her to do whatever she wants; what I object to is all the attention she gets just because she used to be an Olympian and appears on a ridiculous reality show that celebrates bad behavior. But I digress....
Because American adults have unhealthy hang ups about nudity and sexuality, it is this aspect of the fandom that gets their attention. Shame on them for being so shallow.
My question to you, Tabbigayle, is how do you view the fandom? Some people see it as a hobby, while others consider it a lifestyle. Sounds like you feel it is a lifestyle, but not a sexual lifestyle, yes? Part of who you are, so let’s approach it from that aspect.
Mom: she sounds pretty cool. Since she’s a pagan, this is how you approach her, especially if you are, too. Many furries identify as pagans and, in general, furries tend to be very open about religious and spiritual beliefs (you can find everything from Atheists and Christians to those who follow Shamanism and Wicca—any Zoroastrians out there?). I myself identify as pagan, and part of that is my identity and relationship with bear spirit. Relating to your animal spirit side is something that your mother could probably understand, and she might not be aware of that side of furry. If this is something that interests you, you would do well to talk to your mother using this approach. If not, well, perhaps you can relate it to her in another way. Recently, I was attending the Biggest Little Furcon in Reno with my mate, Yogi, and he made a keen observation: “The furries remind me of the hippies of the 1960s.” He meant that furries were a kind of counterculture, often rejecting the human status quo, which is something your mother also does as a pagan. Talk to her about furries regarding these issues.
Stepdad Jack: Seems to be no worries there. The problem regarding this relationship seems more on your side than his. Why are you uncomfortable talking about furries? Perhaps it is you who actually misunderstands what a furry is? Because if you really understood furries you would feel no shame in talking about them. Feel free to ask this bear anything about furries to ease your anxiety.
Dad: You’re lucky that you have a father who genuinely loves and cares about you and is making an effort to understand you (even awkwardly)! That is 95% of the battle right there! Yay! Your father’s problem seems to be that he feels you’re too young for furries, meaning he sees it as a phenomenon designed for teens and twenties to do strange adult things. As stated above, being a furry is not about sex. So, you need to talk about all the OTHER aspects of being a furry. As a strategy, you might actually start with his girlfriend, who seems pretty cool. Talk to her on the side and tell her about your being a furry and ask for her suggestions on how to approach your dad (she might even be a go-between for you and talk to him on your behalf).
That all said, there is something quite important in your letter that didn’t get by the bear: you’re a young girl and have a girlfriend. Does your family know you’re a lesbian? If so, and they are understanding about that—then gosh! Why wouldn’t they be understanding about furries, as well? If they don’t know you’re a homosexual (or bi?), then I would suggest to you that this would be a priority discussion for you and your parents before you even get into the furry fandom talk. (Or am I misunderstanding your use of “girlfriend”? Usually, if a girl has a friend who is a girl, she usually just says “my friend.” “Girlfriend” implies something a lot more serious.)
When it comes to being a furry, I think you’re luckier than many furs who have written to me in that you really seem to be blessed with great parents and a nice stepparent. Sounds like is it your own self-consciousness about being a furry that is getting in the way, rather than a lack of an understanding family.
Hope that helps!
Dear Papa Bear,
I've "picked up my pen" several times to write to you, and each time I've stopped myself because I don't have a question - not really, I think. And yet I feel that if I don't reach out to someone, someone I don't know, someone who doesn't know me, I'm going to break down, or explode, or do something really quite stupid. I suppose, if I have to have a question, it's --- No. I was going to write, "What am I doing wrong?" but I'm not going to bully myself like that. Instead I'm going to say, "Does it really get better?"
As you can see, I'm an older male. (I'm a dragon, in case you're wondering about my fursona.) I'm older, I'm single, I've never been in the best of relationships, although I was with someone for a while whom I did care about very deeply but we still went our separate ways in the end. I'm also hurt, and lonely, and wanting nothing more right now than to have someone to curl up against and tell me, "It's going to be all right."
There's no easy way to say any of this, so I'm going to be honest. If this comes across as bluntness, then I apologize.
I grew up in a time and place where it was wrong to be gay. Homophobia was endemic, and it was underlined by government, by society and by religion. In 1988, Margaret Thatcher passed legislation which made it illegal for teachers to educate children about anything but normal, heteronormative relationships. People could be fired for being gay, or beaten up and the Police would look the other way. I was raised that being gay was a sin.
I also grew up experiencing a lot of abuse. (There's no other way to say it.) It wasn't deliberate abuse, most of the time, but it was still abuse. I walked on eggshells from age 8 to 18, and even after that to a degree. I was bullied at school, experienced emotional and psychological abuse at home, and yet had some of the most wonderful family members I could hope for --- at times. Because, as we all know, nobody is always abusive, only when that switch in their head kicks in.
The issue is this: my parents are both also survivors of abuse themselves. When I talk about this (which is rarely), I try to make it clear that the abuse was not deliberate: my parents and family did not set out intentionally to cause me harm. The fact is, however, that it happened, and the results are effectively the same. I can't find it in my heart any more to blame or be angry with my parents for their actions: they did their best, in extremely difficult situations, and they, too, are as much the products of their pasts as I am. In recent times, with the death of the primary abuser (whom we could never work out if they knew what they were doing or not), my family has become much happier and more relaxed, home has become a place which I look forward to visiting and my relationship with my parents is the best it has been for a long time.
I was expected to do well at school, to be the model pupil, to make everybody proud, to get top marks --- and I did, for a while. But it's difficult, Papa Bear, to try to please everyone, and I was 17 when I had my first "breakdown". (The big one was to come at the age of 19, when I fell in love with a guy for the first time.)
I learned early on to read people, and also to try to become what I thought they wanted me to be. And so I did. For my parents I was the good son, for the teachers the dutiful pupil, for the minister the diligent worshipper --- and so on, and so on, and so forth. I tried to please. I strove to please. Not least because the merest thing could set off a major explosion at home, but because by pleasing I had learned I could forestall such explosions. Or the cold, silent treatment, which was even worse. Or the sudden fury which would rise, and raise, and blow, and then be gone, and the person responsible would blink in apparently genuine innocence and claim they hadn't lost their temper at all.
Perhaps it's not surprising that I started eating. And eating. And eating. I always felt tired, too, and I found that consuming food smothered the feelings I had, and that was a good thing: it wasn't done to have feelings. Feelings could so easily get you in trouble.
I should also add that I grew up extremely isolated. My social circles revolved around home, school and the people I met at a church... I have no siblings, and for most of my life no friends. I find it very difficult to make and keep friends, and although I don't enjoy being alone, being in a relationship is equally scary because it's "unknown."
I went to university at 18 and by 19 had found the Internet and fallen in love with a guy. What little strength was left in my mind gave way and I broke into a million pieces. I ended up back at my parents' place for a year—arguably the worst thing that could have happened, in some ways—and finally went back to school. But in between I visited some friends in the US and... and realized something else was wrong. I like guys... so why can't I get hard? Why is it that someone in the shower with me is straining hard, and I'm not? (He later confessed he wasn't really terribly gay, which in retrospect makes it even worse.) And it wasn't only then, it was almost every time I was with a guy—Was? Is. I still can't "perform," as a rule, unless I'm so exhausted I can't think about it and then, for some reason, I manage. But the upshot was that the things I wanted to be able to do, the things that felt most right, simply don't work for me. But that's a whole other issue, I know.
So time moves forward. I fall into and out of relationships, jumping into them with almost anybody who shows me a crumb of kindness and then having my hopes dashed when things come crashing down. And I'm seeing people I know, people I love, moving on, finding relationships, finding joy and happiness, and here am I, still alone. It's difficult enough under such circumstances not to ask, "What am I doing wrong?" I know that it's probably not me that's at fault, though given my background it's hard to break away from that.
A few years ago I moved to the US to start school again—my fourth degree, a graduate degree this time. And I started to work on myself. I've been in therapy for four years now, and even now it doesn't seem like it's enough. I've had hypnotherapy sessions (from a licensed and qualified hypnotherapist) and even so it never feels as though it's enough. I've been diagnosed with several linked endocrine dysfunction issues, and being on medication has helped: my testosterone level is normal, now, instead of being half of what a geriatric man would have (which was leading me to question my gender, on top of everything else), and taking thyroid medication helps my mood and also my energy level, the constant falling of which was at least partly responsible for my overeating.
And yet, all this year, I've been in and out of a funk which I can't escape. I can shake it for a few days at a time, maybe even two weeks, but right now the black shuck feels as though he's tied to my heels. I'm tired, Papa Bear, I'm tired of being alone, I'm tired of having to care for myself, I'm tired of chasing after pennies... I'm tired of not being who I know I can be and who I want to be. Dammit, Papa Bear, I'm just *tired*. I'm tired all the way through to my soul and I don't know how to stop being tired. Maybe it's because I want too much, too much. I'm told that if you stop wanting things then you find it, but that doesn't seem to work, either.
I'm sorry for the tone of this letter, Papa Bear. I know it's a jumbled and disorganized mess but I've got a child's wail trying to get out through an adult's throat and I don't know where to begin. Please tell me it will get better, Papa Bear, because right now I just want to curl up in a corner and cry until the pain goes away, and tonight I don't know if it ever will.
Merrys (age 40, upstate NY)
* * *
I hear you. Listen, before I write something you've already heard before, please tell me more about what your therapist has said (surely, something more after 4 years than just endocrine issues?) Did you go to a psychologist? Psychiatrist? Or just a counselor? Did you address the obvious issue that sex is in the brain (explaining your problem with tumescence with guys)?
Like I said, I don't want to reiterate what a therapist has said--since that obviously hasn't worked. You can help me target a solution better if you tell me what already hasn't worked in the therapist's office.
Write back soon.
Everyone needs hugs. I'm not near New York, but here's a virtual one.
* * *
Hullo Papa Bear,
Thank you for your email, and thank you for your hug: I really appreciate it. Hugs are good.
I've been seeing the same therapist for the past two-and-a-half years, and it was the sexual side of things which took me to him. Before that, I spent time with a couple of other therapists, one of whom was absolutely lovely and helped a lot and the next was a little passive and I didn't feel helpful. They all work for my school's Student Health Centre as counsellors, though all of them are highly qualified: my current therapist has a PhD in psychology and 30 years' experience.
To be honest, though, Papa Bear, it's not just about the sexual side of things. I can understand that you picked up on that most strongly: I mean, a gay male dragon who can't mate must be in a bad place, right? (And yes, it sucks.) But equally I think that there's nothing more honest than a person's genitals: they're either into someone or they're not, and I have had times, even when I had the lowest testosterone level ever, when simply smelling the breath of a young male sitting next to me while we ate lunch together was enough to make me fully hard in moments; equally, making love to my ex-boyfriend (who is female-to-male transgendered) I could be fully and achingly hard for him—but usually only when we were both utterly exhausted.
Sex is in the brain, but so are an awful lot of other things, accrued from down the years and which can be terribly hard to get rid of. I don't like to be one of those people who points at others and blames everyone else for their own misfortune, but regrettably I cannot escape that I have been badly damaged by my past.
Right at this moment, I don't even want sex. Right now, inside, there's a scared child who wants to be nurtured and cared for, and it's so painful to admit it: in this world of apparently well-turned-out young people, in this fandom where sex is made to seem easy and everyone is virile and the young are well-balanced, this old dragon feels very much out of place. How can I say, to whom can I say it, that I just want to be held and comforted and tended and cared for, because at the moment I just don't have the strength to be strong? At the moment so many ghosts from my past are coming to the surface, and all I can see, over and over again, is my eight-year-old self—the age I was when everything began to change—and he's hurt, he's confused, he's afraid, he doesn't understand why things are changing, and yet he has to grow up in the space of a few weeks and become a caregiver to someone who should be caring for him. Eight years old and almost an adult. Eleven years old and he has his plushies taken away from him: "Don't you want to be a big boy now you're starting senior school?" How could he answer, "No," and not feel he'd disappointed everyone. Twelve years old and the joy has gone from birthdays and Christmases, and it's another 28 years before he can feel comfortable telling people that it's his birthday, because it's gone from being a day of delight to something he learns is another reason for people to mock him for his naïveté.
It's not just about the sex. I think the sex is a symptom. Perhaps as much from being most of my time alone, and having no confidence when I have been with someone, to also being with the wrong people, quite likely—as I said, there's nothing as honest as a set of genitals.
I just needed to reach out to someone, Papa Bear. I need a Papa to hold me right now—someone to hold me, who won't mock me or laugh at my weakness, or make fun of the "little dragon" who is trying not to cry (and failing). I know I must sound pathetic, and yet right now I don't care. I feel so damned tired, and lonely, and there doesn't seem to be the slightest chance of that changing any time soon. Each time I think I've learned to love myself even a little bit, some voice in the back of my head pops up and I feel as though I'm back in square one, all over again.
Abuse is horrible, Papa Bear. Even when it's not intentional. It's like kudzu, or the ground elder we get back home, or Japanese knotweed. And you can never be sure it's entirely gone, because the worst of it is that you learn to do it to yourself: you learn to believe that you deserve all the things that happen to you, you learn to believe it IS your fault, you learn to believe that there's no other way it can be.
* * *
Hi, Little Dragon,
I understand better now, thanks for taking the time to write out your feelings. Yours is one of those letters that Papabear gets that goes to the front of the line, so I will write to you later today after work.
In the meantime, I am attaching an audio file [inserted a recording from Don Miguel Ruiz]--one of several. If you like the first one, let me know and I'll send more. I think it might help.
* * *
Hi Papa Bear,
I don't really know what to say. I feel honored that you'd take the time, and yet embarrassed and awkward at the same time: "why should I get special treatment?" is what the voice in my head says. That, and being called "Little Dragon", when I try so hard to be the big, strong, fierce dragon everyone expects a big, long dragon to be... I'm not sure if to be embarrassed by that, too. Expectations, again.
Thank you for the audio file. It was very beautiful. It reminds me of things I've heard before, in particular St Paul's letter to the Corinthians in which he says, "For now we see but through a glass darkly..." I'm not a Christian, or at all religious, but I do remember that.
*leans into your hugs*
Thank you, Papabear.
* * *
You're welcome. Here's another recording to listen to while I work.
* * *
Thank you. *snugs up against your side and puts his head on your chest while he listens*
* * *
I won’t pretend to be able to solve all your problems in one letter, but I will try to make a good start here, and I hope you will correspond with me more in the future if you need to talk.
You don’t go into what your therapists covered (other than endocrine issues, which, in turn, could cause problems with testosterone levels, and, indeed, the original cause of this can be stress), and you don’t explain well what the abuse was as a child, except that you were made to grow up too soon and, evidently, not allowed to be yourself. Your parents, having been abused themselves, did what usually happens in such cases: perpetuated the cycle of abuse on to you (good news being that you have risen above this and now have a good relationship with them). This, it seems, wasn’t because of family being deliberately abusive, but they probably didn’t understand you and just weren’t very good at raising their one child. They may have been good people, but just not competent people.
Because you weren’t allowed to be a child, and because you became a people pleaser—always working to make parents, clergy, teachers happy—you didn’t get to discover yourself. And because you didn’t get to discover yourself, people with whom you were attempting to have relationships with became frustrated because they couldn’t figure you out because you didn’t know who you were. The first step in finding out who you are is to stop trying to be the person you think others want you to be. This doesn’t mean that you should disregard or be mean or indifferent to others, but you shouldn’t hide who you are to please others. Once you have stripped away that false mask and let yourself be you, you being a process that, while it might take some time, will eventually lead you to you.
While, as you say, not laying the blame on anyone, it’s clear that your problems stem from the abuse you had as a child, the fact that you weren’t allowed to be a child (what I call Michael Jackson Syndrome), and that this has all caused you severe stress that has led to endocrine issues and sexual dysfunction. One might also say you wish to return to childhood (or, anyway, divest yourself of the burden of being an adult) because you didn’t get the emotional support you craved as a child. Furthermore, you were not allowed to be gay because of family and society, further suppressing your true identity. Is this what your psychologist told you?
The problem is easy to identify. You could, actually, blame your upbringing, but that won’t solve the problem. So how do you solve the problem?
Well, you’ve found one way to cope, I feel, by being a furry, which is a way to try to relate to one’s child side. Interesting that you picked a dragon as your fursona, the dragon being a strong, tough, loner figure, representing what you are trying to be. In that sense, I suggest that you actually have picked the opposite fursona of the one you need. I don’t see you as a dragon; I see you as a bunny—soft and cute and snuggable ... and vulnerable. Perhaps you might adopt a second fursona. Many do.
You would also do well to try and recapture your childhood. Not the way Michael Jackson did (bordering on insanity, poor man), but to regain the joy of Christmas, birthdays, going to amusement parks, etc. You sound like you need friends. What’s your involvement in the furry community? (And, by the way, your impression of furries that they are all “virile” and sexually confident and well-balanced.... poppycock. Just read through the letters on this site, which is a receptacle of insecurities and sexual and relationship problems. We all need help.) Hanging out with furries is a super way to regain that feeling of childlike playfulness.
So, we now have: find out who you are, rediscover your childhood, and start making friends (btw, this is from one of my favorite sites, Tiny Buddha, on being a friend: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/25-ways-to-be-a-true-friend/). When you are good friend material, you will attract friends to you like moths to a flame.
And what happens when you get lots of friends? Well, chances are that one of those friends will become more than a friend. It starts with cuddles, and you need cuddles more than just about anyone I’ve ever talked to.
“Working on yourself” doesn’t mean working on your appearance, or getting an impressive education, or making lots of money, or, in a relationship, doing whatever the other person wants from you, or working on your conversation skills and trying to be the life of the party. There is nothing really wrong with you, except that you weren’t given a fair chance to ground yourself because you didn’t get the childhood everyone needs. Remember, people don’t transform from children into adults, they are, rather, adult shells encasing the children still inside them. That child, that vulnerability, that need to be cuddled and protected, remains in all of us. It’s the brave ones who admit that they need a big hug or cuddle, and no, it’s not about sex.
One last word of advice. Don’t stand around waiting for that hug. Be proactive and hug someone first. You might be surprised that this can break down walls and one of those people will give you a big hug back. Maybe it will lead to a new relationship; and, yes, relationships can be scary, but it’s better than no relationship at all, if that’s what you’re looking for.
As to your original question, “Does it get better?” It certainly can, although I can’t guarantee it. But it helps to get to a goal when you have a clear, well-paved path to walk on. I hope I laid a few stones on that path for you tonight.
* * *
Dear Papa Bear,
Thank you for your considered and considerate reply. To address all your points in any depth is going to take a while, so I hope you'll forgive me if my reply takes a while to complete. I wanted to say "thank you" now, though: reading your words, as I have several times already, I have found both comforting and reassuring, and I feel better already.
One thing I'd like to mention now, though, and I'll address it more fully in later, is that I'm Otherkin, and that's my connection to being a dragon. I didn't choose to be a dragon, I simply am one. And I'd argue that even dragons can be vulnerable and weak and need cuddles, too. I know I did, when I was an eggling, first time around. :-)
Thank you again for your patience, your kindness and your support. I have very much enjoyed writing to you, and also listening to those two audio tracks you sent me.
With very best wishes, and much thanks,
* * *
Hi, again, Little Dragon,
That is, indeed, a vital piece of information you left out, your being Otherkin. And you’re correct that even a tough-looking dragon can need a cuddle now and then. If I had known this, I would never have suggested you change your fursona (though you still might have the heart of a bunny *grin*). That would be like someone suggesting I be something other than a bear. I am a bear, and you are a dragon, and that’s that. You remind me of Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon--a fierce beast with a heart of gold.
This whole conversation is an excellent reminder to readers of this column that appearances can be deceiving. The guy who looks really tough and confident on the outside might be just the guy who needs a good squeeze and a sympathetic ear.
It’s also a reminder of how many—really, most—people in the world go about their lives wearing masks to please others or as a protective measure against ridicule and prejudice. Some might say that furries are all wearing masks, pretending to be animals or anthros, but I feel it is quite the contrary: we are stripping away our false selves and revealing who we really are on the inside, says this bear.
I don’t think this is the end of this particular conversation, but it is enough for now. Perhaps I’ve worn out the patience of the readers of this column with such a long post, but they, as always, are free to wander off elsewhere into cyberspace. I hope that those who have stayed have gained something here.
Bear Hugs to All,
Dear Papa Bear,
I don't know if you remember me (I emailed you in the winter of 2012-2013 about relationship issues) but I talked to you about relationship issues before. I now have another issue that I can't seem to resolve on my own and I need your advice.
About 2 years ago, I met a guy on FurAffinity through his art. He liked my stories and we hit it off well. We're still good friends even to this day and we care about each other very well. We're also like business partners (as he calls us) because of our comic that we do and also because he's helping me with a book cover for a novel.
The only problem is... I like him as more than a friend but he sees us only as friends. He proclaims himself as straight, though he's done more than enough homosexual stuff with me to make me think it's more than that. He's a very Christian person and he thinks it might be a sin to be gay. He's become over the last few months very adamant about me becoming Christian as well because of his care and affection for me, but he insists he is straight.
I can't seem to get over myself no matter what I do and I find myself going through a gamut of real emotions with him whenever I am around him. I honestly think I love him more than I've loved anyone else since my last hard break up over 2 years ago. But honestly, if he doesn't like me like that, why can't I get over myself?
Can you help with some advice?
Anonymous (age 23)
* * *
Sure, that’s what I do ;-) I notice in your letter two comments of interest: he wants you to become a Christian, and you want him to be gay. I see this a lot in letters about relationships. “I love him, but if only he would do this or be that for me.” Not good. If you can’t love and accept someone for who they are without trying to change them, then I don’t recommend pursuing that particular romantic relationship. A person is not an ill-fitting suit you can tailor to fit your needs. Once you start trying to change someone, you open the door to a Pandora’s box of arguments, resentment, and dissatisfaction.
Can people change? Of course. But you must let them do it of their own accord.
As for the question “Why can’t I get over myself?” My instinct here is that you are in love with the idea of being in love, and this fellow is the closest you’ve gotten to someone you feel you could love in the last two years. After a two-year dry spell, a lot of people would be like you: getting a bit desperate and willing to grasp at straws because of impatience.
You’re feeling enamored because the guy likes your stories (big ego boost and mood uplifter) and because he makes you feel good about yourself you feel love for him. Let me ask you this: could you love him if he continues to assert he is straight and Christian and he continues to want to convert you to Christianity and there was no hope of ever changing that?
Whatever your answer to that question is, there’s your answer about the possibility of being mates.
Dear Papa Bear (Great Name)
I really want to keep this short.
I do a lot of volunteering in my life when I'm not suited up and sadly over the last few years I've had devastation after devastation hit me.
My mom has a terminal illness, my dad left and is constantly smoking, I suffer from autism and I feel sad and depressed all the time.
I do a lot for people but don't feel nowadays that I can go on continuing to volunteer because I'm not having getting any "ME" time (time to myself) I also feel I've become more of a burden onto people, I have felt like not caring anymore because of how I've been treated.
One thing I would like to know is to try and make me happy, are there any role-play chatroom websites where anything can happen? (I just want to forget about the real world because of all the crap I put up with it).
Xoda Fox (age 25)
* * *
Bear hugs to you, dear furry. You sound like a very giving soul, and that’s a wonderful thing. I can definitely see why you would feel burned out, and I’m sorry to hear about your parents, especially your mom. Sounds like dad is coping by not coping :(.
You are wise to recognize that some “me” time is a thing that everyone needs and it is not a selfish pursuit, either. When one is burned out, tired, unhealthy, one is of no use to anyone. You have to take care of yourself first, and then do what you can for others.
When taking care of yourself, please balance this pursuit by addressing your Four Aspects:
If any one of these aspects is suffering, it will affect the other three. You ask about role-play rooms. Indulging in a bit of escapism might help your mental and emotional health some by easing stress ... or not. Papabear doesn’t spend time in such chat rooms (I’m too busy, frankly), but I do know you have to be careful in them. I have heard complaints that people actually get in nasty, hurtful fights online, and that won’t help your stress at all. A lot of these rooms—especially when it comes to furry ones—involve sexual role-play, and I’m not sure you want to go there, either, or if you should. You might try, instead, an MMOG such as World of Warcraft, which I understand is very popular and you can spend many hours in such a virtual world. The danger there, too, is that you might become addicted to it and not spend time in the real world.
Instead, I would suggest you pursue a course of balancing your Four Aspects: 1) begin a regular exercise routine, which not only makes you healthier but also reduces stress, making sure to eat healthy, too; 2) exercise your mind by learning something new (e.g. take a class, learn a language, learn a new skill) or by playing games that make you think (e.g. online Jeopardy, crossword puzzles, math puzzles etc.); 3) emotional health—let’s get back to that one in a little bit; and 4) spiritual health: if you are a religious person, it’s time to readdress that part of your life (attend church or temple or mosque), or you might learn about other spiritual traditions, from Eastern faiths to shamanism to Wicca.
Back to emotional health. Normally, I would tell people that volunteer work would be a great way to uplift your spirits, but it seems you’re having some trouble there. Someone has been treating you poorly at one of the places you volunteer? What a shame :-( I can’t comment on that too deeply because I don’t know the circumstances, but perhaps your solution could be something as simple as finding a new cause for which to give your time? Some nonprofit organizations, sadly, are troubled by cliquish behavior or administrators with huge chips on their shoulders, and that can diminish the volunteer experience (boy, have I been there!). You can try something else, or even try something where you don’t interact as much with people (such as fostering a pet or service dog—you raise a dog for the first year to 16 months until they are ready to be trained as guide dogs).
Besides volunteer work, when it comes to emotional health, play and travel are helpful. And by play, you should really try something outdoors. Learn to fly a kite or go rollerblading or play basketball at a local gym. If you can travel, that is an excellent pursuit that can really help you emotionally, even if it is just going to an amusement park or miniature golf. You’re on the right track with your idea of adding some play time to your life, but, again, I’m not sure that immersing yourself in online role-play would be the wisest choice.
And, before I forget, how about reading a novel? People seem to forget these days that getting lost in a good book is a wonderful way to escape the troubles of mundane life. Pick up a book!
As a corollary to that, maybe try writing your own stories. That’s a way to escape, too. Or try art or music or textile arts. Another avocation that's very popular is gardening. There can be a lot of personal satisfaction in raising a beautiful flower garden or growing your own vegetables.
I’m sorry I can’t help you more with online RP chat rooms. Perhaps some of my readers could suggest safe and sane and fun places to explore in the virtual world. Hopefully, some will comment on your letter, but I hope some of my suggestions may help, as well. Too often these days it seems--to this old bear--that people turn to their electronic devices for comfort, but there's so much more to life than a glowing screen populated by digitized characters....
Hi Papa Bear, hope you are doing well and thank you for reading this question. I have been in a bit of a funk recently and have been clinging to Skype and FurAffinity to help get me through the day these past few weeks.
I have been trying to write and find inspiration these past few weeks. However, each time I see or try to write a new story I get a pang of doubt or jealousy for some reason and spend the afternoon languishing about being grumpy/sad.
Do you have any suggestions for clearing my head and find inspiration?
* * *
All writers go through what you’re feeling right now, mostly due to self doubt (thinking everything you write isn’t good enough), and sometimes due to writer’s block (simply no ideas come to mind). The first thing you need to do is explore your motivation: why do you want to write. Which of the following describes you?
If you answered 1, 2, or 4, put away your computer right now and abandon all hope ye who enter here, because you are writing for the wrong reasons. Go pursue some other interest. If, however, you chose 3 or 5, then we may continue.
Papabear’s main reason for writing these days is #3. It is for that reason that I write a column 4-7 times a week, and I would do more except my workaday job often wears me out (and sometimes I just run out of letters, or have a lot of people wanting me not to publish their letters). If your answer is 3, as well, then jump-start your creative process by imagining people reading your stuff and the smiles it will produce on their faces. You can do this through the process of meditation. Reconnect to your original reason for writing by contemplating your pure motivation. You want to make others happy and inspire them. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if, sometimes, your writing might be a bit clunky; the important thing is to get your message across, what you want to convey. What is your message? What are you trying to say? Reconnect to that, and it will get you going again.
Note! And this is very important! You are not writing for approval of your readers; this implies you want some positive feedback and recognition (#4). No, you are writing for them in an unselfish process of giving to your audience without expecting anything in return, including any acknowledgment.
If you chose #5, then it seems you have gotten a bit off track because you’re not enjoying writing at the moment. To get back to writing, do the following:
Hope this helps! Good luck! And keep writing!
So glad to see your advice column is going on strong! I previously wrote to you in 2013 about my cheating boyfriend and him about being more attracted to men then women. (http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/hes-bi-shes-straight-can-they-make-it-work)
I have an question and a update kind of lol.
Insane and I are fine. We will be 3 years together in July! And we got over that previous incident and came to terms with the event. We grew! IT'S FANTASTIC! We are working on getting a apartment and a car. Which is great!
But here is my question. We are getting to that point of "Brick Love Wall" Syndrome as I like to call it. Is it normal to feel like the relationship is boring/In a routine/No spice? I love him and still have the desire to be with him.
It may be just us being comfortable or something.
I wanna feel the honeymoon stage again but I know that can't happen because people fall in love in stages. We are in that "We love each other but it's not honeymoon." stage. (Lack for a better term.)
Any advice would be lovely.
Jaded One (age 21, Las Vegas)
* * *
Oh, yes, I recall you very well and am glad things are going better with your mate! As for your current challenge, it’s not unusual at all for couples to get a bit bored with their sex life after a few years (there’s a classic movie about this starring Marilyn Monroe—with her famous street vent pose—called The Seven Year Itch you might enjoy watching). In your 2013 letter to me, I advised you to spice up your love life a little. Have you tried that?
Spicing up your love life means to try different things other than the same ol’ same ol’ in the bedroom. One thing you can do is try different locations. Other rooms in the house, perhaps outside (if you have a private yard), or, even better, a romantic getaway (although that’s less practical for regular sex, it can be a nice change of pace).
You can try role-play fantasies, experiment with toys (e.g. from Bad Dragon), etc. The important thing is to break out of old habits and do something different.
That’s just the sex part, of course. Forgive me if I assumed that was what you meant, at first. There is also “everything else” about life that can put a damper on that honeymoon feeling. You have to work, pay bills, wash the laundry, clean the house, etc. etc. When you’re on a honeymoon, none of the day-to-day stuff matters, and you can idealize your love and spend all your time having fun.
While it’s impractical to do that now, you need to set aside time for yourselves and get away from the distractions of life. Take one day a week (or at least one afternoon) and make it “Us Time.” It doesn’t really matter what you do during Us Time, just as long as you do it together, but one thing I would strongly suggest—toss away the cell phones and any other distracting electronic devices. This is time for YOU, not answering text messages.
In addition to the weekly Us Time, also take one day a month for what you might call Mega-Us Time, which is a special day when you do something really fun, like go to an amusement park or a camping trip or some other fun excursion. Heck, you live in Vegas. If you haven’t done it before, go see a concert, or see the jousting show at the Excalibur Hotel. If the budget is a problem, get yourself a picnic basket and find a secluded spot for a lovely meal, watch a sunset, and cuddle.
There are dozens of things you can do cheaply and romantically. Here’s a site that lists a bunch http://onecentatatime.com/101-frugal-and-romantic-ideas-for-anniversary/ and you can easily do some research on the Web for more.
Next time you feel like you’re getting into a routine, make a little effort to shake things up again to bring back that honeymoon feeling.
Wishing You Continued Love,
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.