I am not really sure where to begin. I need some advice on my relationship with my mate. I have been with him for around 2 years now and it seems that every time I want to go out with one of my best friends or do something else besides be with him he says I don't care or that we don't have the same spark that we used too. How do I explain to him that I still love him just as much as I did a few months back? We have had this conversation over and over again but nothing seems to get any better.
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What you have on your paws is an insecure mate. Insecure people need constant validation and get nervous when they are not in control of the world around them, including people who are close to them. Papabear doesn’t know enough about him to understand why he is so unsure of himself, but there are still things you can do to alleviate this without knowing the cause: a one-two-three punch approach.
Punch 1: Pardon if the comparison is a little insulting, but just like a dog with separation anxiety issues that tears up the couch and claws the door whenever you leave the house, you need to wean your guy off the habit of being upset whenever you do something without him. The way to do this is to start small and work you way up. It would be impractical for him to manacle the two of you together so you were always by his side, so I assuming he is okay with your going out to run a brief errand. Start with this, making your errands a little longer and more complex (one store then graduating to a couple stores, the post office, etc.) Then, once he is more used to that, have one or two friends over to your place. Make sure he is comfortable with your friends. Next, the two of you go out with your friends, finishing off with the shopping approach where you go out briefly with your friends by yourself, then go on longer outings. Even though you’re doing this by yourself sometimes, make sure to mix it up with times that both you and he go out together. But make sure you have a “Me Day” once in a while.
Punch 2: Use positive reinforcement. Whenever he does not get upset when you go out by yourself, reward him with a small treat, whether that is some food, or spending a little quality time with him, or giving him a big smooch, make sure he is rewarded for good behavior. When he behaves badly, do not punish him, but neither should you reward him. Ignore his hissy fits. This is how positive reinforcement works.
Punch 3: Do what you can to beef up his self-esteem. Compliment him when he does something well, thank him profusely when he does something kind for you, encourage him when he strives to do something new. Be supportive of his personal and professional goals.
Yeah, I gotta chuckle a little in that this is a bit like training your dog, but the psychology is the same. Just don’t give him dog bones for rewards :-P
Another thing you can help him with is understanding that relationships change with time. This doesn’t mean they get worse; they just change and evolve. Yes, as he noted, the honeymoon period may be over, but if he wants to be in a relationship that lasts more than a year, he’s going to have to recognize that this is typical of any relationship. You can’t honeymoon your entire life; it’s impractical and, let’s face it, exhausting. But! you can grow together, evolve together, help each other become better people, which is something we should all strive to do. People change, but love endures.
If his poor behavior continues after all this, the problem might be a bit more serious than we realize, and it could be that something in his past really needs to be examined with help from a professional counselor.
Either way, with a bit of work on both your parts, you can certainly get through this :-)
Dear Papa Bear,
Let me just say thanks for taking time out of your day to read my messages. Your advice is really helpful! I'm sorry I waited so long to respond to your messages. I've been busy with school, personal stuff, a relative just passed away, etc.
Anyway, I have another question. I was wondering if you have any advice for meeting furries in real life. I recently joined a Furry forum for furries in the Midwest called Michiganfurs.com. I've only been on the website for a couple days, but so far I dislike it because the interface is, well ... awful. But, I'll keep using it until I make contact with someone.
I remember I Skyped with a furiend from DA once, but only one time. It was kind of awkward, because we had never spoken before. But, he lives in Nevada and I live in Michigan, so I don't think I'll ever meet him. :(
Anyway, back on topic. I was just wondering if you have any general advice for meeting furries IRL.
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If I were you, I would give Michiganfurs.com (aka Midwest Furries, though most members are in Michigan) more of a chance. When I lived in Michigan this site really helped me to connect to a lot of furries. You’ll get used to the interface. A HUGE benefit of being a member of Midwest Furries is that the site includes a furry locator map. Also, there is FurryMap.net, where furries register their locations. There are quite a lot of us in Michigan.
Other sites you can use to find furries include Meetup.com, where you can search on “furry” to find possible furry meets in your area; however, at this time I don’t see any meet-up groups in your area.
Next, go to a furcon. There used to be an outstanding mid-size furcon in Novi Michigan called Furry Connection North, but, sadly, it has closed. HOWEVER, there is a new one in Grand Rapids called Great Lakes Fur Con (http://greatlakesfurcon.com) that will debut in 2014. I think I’ve heard of another furcon in Michigan starting up soon, but can’t recall at the moment where it is. If possible, you should also attend Midwest Furfest in Chicago (well, Rosemont, technically; http://www.furfest.org/). Even though it’s in Illinois, it is the third largest furry convention in the country and you’re sure to make connections there—provided you’re not the shy type. Many furcon sites allow you to register and search on other people who are going to that particular con, so you can chat with them online and, if you connect to someone you like, you can make plans to meet them at the con.
Another thing you can do is visit www.furry4life.org. Go to “Groups” and search on Michigan and you’ll find three or four groups where you can meet lots of people. You can also go to the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/MichiganFurries/.
Still another option is online gaming. If you play, say, World of Warcraft or some other online game like Everquest or Lord of the Rings, or fiddle around on SecondLife, you are bound to meet furries. Because there are so many doing online gaming, you are quite likely to find some who live in Michigan.
Now, if you are looking for a furry who is more than just a friend, you can also try www.FurryMate.com.
Hope these tips help, and hope you find some local furiends!
Hello Papa Bear,
Only recently have I found your advice page, and oddly I had been looking for one. Weird how that all works out....
Anyway, I’m a phoenix, but I suffer from a fairly ironic problem. I have problems getting to sleep at night. Mainly due to when nest down for the evening, I am flooded with feelings of fear and depression. My mind runs straight to "You just lost another day of your life" and "One step closer to death." I haven't been able to get it to stop and it's making my feathers fall out. When the thought of death is unavoidable when its nesting time, it scares me to death.
At one time I went for professional help. After many tests I was diagnosed with panic attacks, night terrors, and depression. They tried to medicate me, and thanks to a previous life I am not at all proud of (involving heavy drug use) I am majorly afraid of using anything that isn't natural or that forces me to do anything.
I really don’t know what to do about this, the lack of a good restful night sleep is really starting to effect me badly. my heath has been taking a turn for the worst.
What can I possibly do?
From one tired birdy,
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Thanks for your letter. Quick question: do you drink diet sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners?
Please get back to me and I'll write again soon.
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Actually I don't. I mainly drink tea and water. I never had a taste for soft drinks.
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Hi, again, Dimitri,
Okay, I always like to check that first because a lot of people drink diet sodas and consume other things with aspartame, which can really mess up your neurological system.
That aside, first allow me to congratulate you for getting off the drugs. That is no small achievement and deserves recognition. I also understand that you would be hesitant to take prescription drugs, since they can have many adverse side effects (just watch any drug commercial on TV—got depression? Take this pill.... Oh, sure, it might give you thoughts of suicide and give you a tumor, but you won’t be depressed! Say what?)
There could be a lot of things going on here. You say you sought professional help (good for you) and they diagnosed you with panic attacks, night terrors, and depression. Okay, so, that’s the diagnosis, but did they try to find out the cause of all this? Or did they just reach for the pills? Treating the symptoms will not help you without finding the cause.
One possibility could go back to your drug use. Drugs, as you well know, can really mess up your brain. It could be that whatever you were ingesting or injecting or snorting has damaged your neurological system (just as aspartame does) and this has caused your current problems. If that’s the case, then the damage is done. Now, sometimes your brain can, over time, rewire itself and recover. Other times it cannot. I personally know a man who took heavy drugs when he was young and now he is a walking zombie. It’s really sad. Fortunately, it’s not quite that bad for you and maybe there is help.
Now, going even deeper, it could be that the real problem is whatever caused your drug use in the first place, such as if you had a particularly traumatic childhood or, if you were in the military, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
These are things that you really need to discuss with a professional. Go to a counselor or psychologist (not a psychiatrist), or, if you think any of the above is true, you could also seek group therapy.
What you need to do, in the meantime, is calm your body and mind. That in itself may help you gain insights into the possible causes of your issues. There are several ways to do this without drugs, including:
There are also a number of foods, too, that you can eat that are conducive to sleep. Ever hear of drinking a warm glass of milk before bed? It’s more than just a household remedy—it can actually help. Some other foods that help you sleep are:
What you need is sleep. The less you sleep, the more imbalanced your brain becomes, and the more likely you are to have nightmares, depression, and so forth. In recent years, the medical community has become increasingly aware of how vital good, restful sleep is to our health. An organization that specializes in sleep research and assistance is the National Sleep Foundation (http://www.sleepfoundation.org/). I recommend you visit its website, join the online community, and perhaps seek a sleep therapist (a directory is available on the site).
You might discover that your problems stem from less shocking causes such as sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome, or some other very treatable trigger.
Many doctors these days are too quick with the drugs. Try some of the approaches above and I’m confident you will get some relief!
Happy Thanksgiving! Eat Turkey!
Dear Papa Bear,
It's hard for me to write this, but I just really need advice on something very important in my life. Someone very important, that is.
I'm only 13, but I'm going through something very hard. My best friend, let's call her Daisy, has moved away 600 miles from me in June.
Her Dad lost her job a while back and then found one in Florida, very far away from my home in North Carolina.
To start out, she wasn't just my best friend, she was my rock. We had done everything together since we were 6 and we have been through so much. We have laughed together, cried together, and traveled all over our state. We would always be each other's first choice and we stuck by each other's side through everything. We would do the unthinkable and we had so much in common. She understood me like no one else, and I appreciated every little thing she did. I know that she hates eggs, that she has a weird birthmark on her lower back and I know all of her secrets. She lived right up the street from me and we would spend every weekend together. We would spend a lot of time together in school too, and we just had fun talking about how each other's day was and what we did. To make it short, this girl was and is my best friend, and no matter what we did, every day I spent with her was a new best day of my life. Her moving was the worst thing that has ever happened to me and I'm not taking it well.
I visited her in the Summer around August, and her house and where she lives is amazing. I'm so jealous, it's such an upgrade from the old, boring town that she used to and I still live in. Me visiting her was the best vacation ever and she wasn't a changed person at all, she was just how I remembered her.
I talked to her the first day she started school, and she was bawling and she missed me and her other friends so much. She said that she wanted to come back and that she didn't like it there.
Skip forward to now, which is November. She has about 5 friends, 2 of them being close ones, and she is liking school very much. She seems to be fine there now and I'm very happy for her! Even though I wish I could go to Florida and tell her knew friends how lucky they are to be able to spend every day with this amazing wonderful person that I would give up so much for just to spend one minute with.
And, since the day she stepped out of my life, I can't stop thinking about her. I miss her so much. I really only have one true friend that is still here and we both miss Daisy like crazy. It's not the same. I need her in my life. I need to be able to see her everyday and hear her voice. I need to be able to see her walking down the hall at school and I can say to myself, "That's her. That's my best friend. That's the person that I live for."
Fast forward to this week, she visited me. We had so much fun going to our old places and spending time together. She is still the same exact person, the same person that has been with me from the start. When we were together it felt like she had never moved. When we said goodbye I felt like she was just going to go back up the street to her house. But no, this goodbye is for at least a year.
Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing ever. It wasn't just that she was leaving, it's that it didn't feel ... right. She's not supposed to live in Florida. We were meant to be best friends. She's supposed to live here with me, in North Carolina. She's supposed to be here. She's supposed to be here to cheer me up when I feel sad, she's supposed to be here to come over to my house at 1 in the morning, she's supposed to be here. For me.
Everyone says that God makes this happen for a reason, but I just wish I knew what that reason was. I know that God put her in my life for a reason, so why is she not with me anymore? There's going to come a time when she forgets me. Just like when I moved away from Virginia. I don't really think about my friends there anymore, even though I used to call them my best friends. I don't want that to happen to me and Daisy.
She's my rock. And every day I spend without her, is another day I feel like curling up into a ball in crying. I need her here with me. I don't want to text her, or Skype her, I need to feel her presence. I need her to be with me.
She's the only thing that is still keeping me going strong. Everything I do is for her, and until the day that we can be neighbors again I won't stop at anything. So, my question for you, Papa Bear, is not how can I forget her or how I can live without her. That's impossible. My question for you is how can I keep living as if she is still here? All I want to do is pack my bags and run to Florida.
Thank you so much.
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Papabear knows exactly what you are going through. I was 14 when my family picked up and moved from Van Nuys, California, to (omg) Wheaton, Illinois, or, as I liked to call it, Corn Fields, USA. I didn’t have a lot of friends back then, but my best friend since third grade, Todd, was there and I had to leave him behind. He was the friend that I used to play “Star Trek” with, and the first and only kid whose bar mitzvah I got to go to. My parents were close friends with his parents, as well, and it was really rough on me. Unlike your BFF Daisy, I wasn’t good at making new friends or handling living in a new part of the country. I really didn’t even start to get over the move until my junior year in high school, but I eventually did.
Over the years, through high school and college and such, I had some friends but didn’t get a new best friend until I met the woman who would be my wife. All the other people who were passing friends drifted away and I don’t talk to them anymore ... EXCEPT for, you guessed it, Todd. He is my oldest friend, even though we only see each other once a year or so because he lived in San Francisco when I was in Michigan and now he’s in New York while I’m in California. So, that friendship has lasted despite the trials. Another friendship that has lasted despite a divorce that would ruin most such relationships is the one with my now-ex wife. Why are we still friends? Because we want to be, and we both mean a lot to each other despite what happened that caused the divorce (namely, my figuring out that I was gay, which you can understand would cause a problem).
CJ, as you go through your life, you will discover that you will have two kinds of friends—well, actually, three kinds of friends. 1) your fair weather friends, who are the people who just hang around you when things are good and you are having fun, but who will flick you away like a gross booger on your finger if you actually need them for something; 2) good friends who will go an extra mile for you and help you with things like, oh, needing a ride when your car has broken down or chipping in a couple extra bucks when you realize you are short of money for a movie ticket; and, finally, 3) your BFFs like you and Daisy or me and Todd. These are the people who will accompany you throughout your life no matter where you end up. My mate, Yogi, has several of these, while I have what I call my primary three: Todd, my ex, and now Yogi. When you get to be older like Papabear, you will count yourself really blessed if you need two hands to have enough fingers in order to count all your BFFs.
I know it is so much better when your BFF is close by and you can actually see and touch her, but at least you can keep in touch with her in ways that were not possible when I was your age. Video chats like on Skype were things from science fiction when I was growing up in the 1970s, but you can see Daisy via Skype any time you wish (I know, I know, you don’t like it as much, but it’s still better than, say, letter writing and waiting for the Pony Express). Also, while 600 miles is kind of far, I’ll admit, it’s not so far that you can’t visit once in a while, as you have been doing. You know, many families move to different parts of the country and only see each other on holidays and they manage to survive and love each other.
Learning to cope with such separations is a part of life, CJ. You and Daisy will both make more friends as the years go by, and you will lose some of those friends, too, and make more friends. You may even make more amazing friends like Daisy.
Life is about change. It’s human nature—especially when we are young and we have not experienced much change—to want things to remain as they are. A life without change feels stable and reassuring, comforting and familiar.
But if I had never moved away from Van Nuys, I never would have met my wife and experienced some of the happiest years of my life, and I never would have met Yogi, who is the sweetest man I ever met and a blessing in this new chapter in my life.
CJ, the fact that Daisy has moved away is not the end of a friendship. If you want to keep Daisy in your life, then keep her in your life. That is within your power to do so. It will take a little more effort because of the distance, but a BFF is worth that, I’m sure you’ll agree. And, not to be grim, but at least your separation is merely one of distance. She has not passed away and is very much alive and well, so that is a blessing.
In the meantime, keep looking ahead to the possibility of new friends in your life. You will definitely meet new ones as you change schools, go to college, find a job, and, very likely, move to new cities.
You don’t have to forget Daisy, nor do you have to live without her, especially thanks to the assistance of technology. Maybe she will someday move back closer to you, or you will move to Florida. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is keep your attention on where you are right now and what you are doing right now. You have very important things to do, such as school and figuring out what you want to do with your life because you will be surprised by how quickly you will suddenly be making plans for college and a career and maybe even your own family.
You are taking a very big step in growing up right now, CJ, by learning that the world was not designed to accommodate your needs. When you say, “She's supposed to be here to cheer me up when I feel sad, she's supposed to be here to come over to my house at 1 in the morning, she's supposed to be here. For me.” Well, no, that’s not how real life works.
How it works is this: we meet the people in our lives when we are meant to meet them. Each important person I have met has helped guide me through a stage in my life, and there have been more than just the three I mentioned above who are the primary three. There are my parents, of course, and my sister, but also people who have come into my life more recently. For example, just as I was discovering my sexuality and, at the same time, connecting with the furry fandom, I became close friends with Cyberbear, who, it turned out, had gone through exactly the same thing in his life of being married and discovering he was gay. He was really pivotal in helping me get through that part of my life, and I met him exactly at the time when I needed to (this is one big reason why this bear believes in spirit guides.)
CJ, I’d like to recommend a book to you: Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It’s a little heavy-handed and syrupy, but it’s a good story about life and the meaning of the people who become a part of it.
Keep Daisy in your life. But don’t think that she will be the only one you will ever meet who will mean this much to you. If you keep your heart open, you will meet others like Daisy whom you will treasure for many years to come. And that’s something you can look forward to!
Although I feel somewhat awkward penning this little letter, I've got to the point where I really think I could benefit from an outside perspective. First off, allow me to give you a bit of personal background which I feel may be important. I'm currently 21 years old, just about to graduate university with a Japanese major, and looking for a job. Fairly standard stuff.
My problem, in a nutshell, lies in irrational emotional responses to certain rather specific triggers. This problem has been with me since at least the start of secondary school, although probably longer, before I learned to recognize it for what it is. The triggers I mentioned pretty much all seem to be connected to interpersonal relationships, how I relate to other people, and how I compare myself to them.
More specifically, the most serious issue seems to be placing myself on a sort of “intellectual ladder,” if you will. I harbor a chronic feeling that I am somehow of little value, or beneath others, so to speak. In other words, I feel that I lack special talents, skills, and intelligence. Moreover, I often get a creeping suspicion that other people view me the same way, even if it is completely irrational.
Now the trouble is, my relationships with other people often get off to a completely innocent and good start. However, eventually I start getting ideas that the other person actually sees very little in me, just barely tolerates me, or looks down on me. Of course, I don't think about this stuff constantly, but I still get the nagging feeling that I'm just not good enough, and I get hypersensitive to it. Now eventually the other person, completely accidentally and unintentionally, says something that somehow, even if it is completely illogical, seems to verify this belief, and that makes me explode at them, and get into pointless, hour-long arguments where I will twist well nigh every word being said like a demonic lawyer, to turn whatever the other person had to say into grave insults to my intellect, or unjust assertions of his/her superiority. The real nasty part here is that these feelings of inadequacy are most often triggered by the person in question trying to teach me something new, or tell me something I don't know; i.e., trying to help me, or give me something that they think will be of value and use to me. In other words, I end up attacking and hurting the ones closest to me, the ones who love me the most, and the ones I love and/or value the most in turn.
Even though I'm fully aware of this horrible deficiency on my part, that awareness doesn't seem to help much when it comes to quelling it; it's almost like an evil reflex, much like when the doctor hits your knee with that certain hammer; I know I shouldn't say and do these things, I know I will feel horribly guilty just a couple of minutes after saying them, there is some terrible, self-destructive part in me that would rather destroy a relationship than have its imaginary fears proven true.
I'm fairly new to the furry community; even though I've known much about it for quite a few years, I've only joined the community proper about a year ago. However, this one year has been a wonderful experience in many ways; I've found a community with like-minded people, where I really feel I belong, and I've learned a lot about myself; in fact, I'd say any improvements on my psychological problems I've achieved are thanks to my experience with the furry community, and certain philosophies that resonated with me within it. Only two years ago I couldn't have even admitted I had a problem at all; I wouldn't have accepted something in myself needs improvement. Ever since discovering my, shall we say, animal side, I've acquired a bit of a different perspective within myself, which made me more self-aware and therefore better equipped to deal with my problems. However, it still hasn't made them go away, and even though I feel I am improving, although slowly and with gritted teeth (I couldn't agree more that your worst enemy and greatest opponent can be yourself, or certain parts of yourself, at the least), these problems still show up quite often, and I still risk losing people I've come to feel close to, and I don't want that. Doubly so since more than like-minded individuals, I have found love in the furry community; I have been with my mate for almost half a year now, and I love her dearly. She means the world to me, but even so, I fear these problems could come between us. I want and try my best to change, both for her sake and mine, but it is doubtless the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Do you believe there is any useful insight you could give me on this matter?
Sincerely, a troubled hyena
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What you’re experiencing is quite common for people suffering from low self-esteem. What you are doing is repressing your feelings of hurt and anger because you feel your opinions don’t matter and that you are not a worthwhile person. You can repress these feelings over time, but eventually they have to come out, and they come out when something triggers your repressed anger. In your case, that occurs when you feel someone is trying to correct you or teach you something. Even though you are aware they are trying to help you, you are so hypersensitized to criticism that all the bottled-up anger comes exploding out of you in one ugly outburst. Unfortunately for the person near you, they get the full-force of that explosion.
There are two strategies you need to take to fix this problem: 1) build your self-esteem, and 2) learn how to control your outbursts.
Let’s work on #2 first because building self-esteem takes a lot of time and you probably want to work on controlling your outbursts ASAP. Here are some strategies to work on:
As for improving self-esteem, that’s something you’ll need to work on over time. There is really not enough room in this column to guide you in this. Depending on your budget and how you feel about such things, you could try hiring a counselor or, to begin, you might try doing some reading, such as Melanie Fennell’s Overcoming Low Self-Esteem. You can also try joining a support group. There are several listed in the MeetUp site at http://self-esteem.meetup.com/ and you can do some searching on the Internet for a group nearest to you.
Many people, including yours truly, suffer from depression and low self-esteem, and it’s not something you get over in a day; it is a lifetime struggle that you improve on slowly.
Good luck! Bear Hugs!
Hi Papa Bear,
I'm in a relationship with a wonderful guy who I love deeply but find some of his indirect actions hurtful and upsetting, and one has been bothering me a lot lately, though I wonder if I am taking it harder than I should.
We have been together for almost a year, but he has never gotten any commissioned art (or any kind of gift) for me, not even for special occasions, but continues to purchase art of him and his roommate in non-intimate scenes and has even asked me permission to get some adult themed art with another. I had mentioned before about 6 months into our relationship that it bothered me that he chose to get art of others instead of me, even though I always depict myself with him as first choice and have gotten many of us, but the situation has not changed and he continues to spend a lot of money on art of him and others. My friends think its a really bad sign.
Am I taking it to hard? What should I do? He's currently on deployment and won't be back for at least 6 more months, so a face-to-face is impossible and our communication is from periodic messages over social media.
Thanks for your time.
* * *
Papabear would tend to agree with your friends. Not only because he has not gotten a commission for you even though he has done so for others, but even more so because he apparently hasn’t gotten you ANY kind of gift even though it has been about a year. No birthday gift? No holiday gift? Valentine? Christmas? Nothing?
While I’m not big on material things, one can express his or her love for another in ways that are thoughtful and not expensive, such as a handmade present of some sort. For example (and I don’t mean this to brag, but it still touches my heart), my mate, for my last birthday, got a friend of his who knows about old radios to put new tubes into my grandparents’ 1930s-era radio so that it once more could play music after decades of being a paperweight. He surprised me with it on my birthday morning. His friend fixed it for him as a favor and it didn’t cost him anything, but to me it was worth a million bucks because it was so thoughtful.
Now, if your boyfriend were not the type to get gifts at all, even for his family or other friends, I wouldn’t be worried because he is just not the gift-giving type. That’s okay. But what we have here is his consideration and thoughtfulness for others and a complete lack of thoughtfulness for you in this regard.
Unless you are leaving something out? There is this possibility: does he do thoughtful acts for you that he wouldn’t do for others? Such as making you your favorite meal for dinner? Pampering you with a foot massage? Leaving you love notes? If he does stuff like that, then I wouldn’t worry about gifts. It could be that he has a separate standard for people he loves, and that standard is the gift of thoughtful acts while purchases of things like art commissions is for his second-tier friends. You say he's a "wonderful guy," so I would thing that he does thing for you that have made you form that opinion, no?
If that is not true and he gives you absolutely nothing, then it is really time to have a serious discussion with him. DO NOT do so online. Such things must be discussed face-to-face, so wait until he gets back from his military duties. When he does, you need to tell him that he makes you feel unloved and you seriously wonder if the two of you should be together.
Don’t ask for gifts at this point, because there is a problem with asking for his consideration. What if he agrees and starts buying you gifts? Is he doing so because he has genuinely seen the light? Or is he just doing it to shut you up? You should not have to ask for gifts because then they are not really gifts; they become obligations. Besides, you have already asked once to no avail.
Therefore, I would recommend that when he comes home you tell him that you think the two of you need a break from your relationship (wait a couple days after his return, though; it would be unkind to hit him with this immediately after over 6 months of duty to his country). Tell him you love him, but you don’t really feel that he loves you as much. Don’t tell him it’s because of the gift thing. If he has any brains at all, he’ll figure it out. Back off, and see if he comes back for you. If he doesn’t, he obviously doesn’t care much. If he does, then hopefully he’ll have gained a new appreciation for your love and respect it as he should.
Hi there, Papa bear,
It's been a while since the last time I mailed ya, you might be quite busy with other advices so I'll make it fast
I just started to draw furries but honestly, I need lot of help; so I wanted to ask you if there are any sites you would like to recommend me, so I can practice and improve more :3
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When it comes to studying art, I do not recommend websites (I’ve looked at places like http://www.learn-to-draw.com/ and didn’t really care for them). There really aren’t any that I’ve seen that are all that great. Instead, I could recommend some books for you and, of course, if you are so inclined, you could take some art classes, either at a school or university or from a private tutor.
When it comes to books, I would recommend getting a mix of theory and practical art advice. Theory books help you develop your technique and elementary drawing skills, while practical art books teach you things like anatomy and how to portray movement.
To start, a book that was given to me by an artist on theory that is very good is Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. As the title indicates, the lessons here get you in touch with the creative side of your brain, so that even people who think they have no artistic skill can improve greatly.
Next, you need a good book on technique. I have An Introduction to Art Techniques from DK publishing, but there are other books you can find online, I’m sure. Such books show you how to use the tools of the trade (brushes, palette knives, etc.) and introduce you to everything from pencil, ink, and spray pens to watercolors, oils, and acrylics. I also have books specifically on pencil and watercolor technique.
Next, get good books on human and animal anatomy. I have Drawing Human Anatomy by Giovanni Civardi, and several animal books. Again, there is a wide variety of such books. Shop around in an art store. They usually carry the ones that are of better quality and can recommend something for your skill level.
Finally, if you are going in that direction, get a cartooning book. I have Cartooning for the Beginner by Christopher Hart. There are also books on digital painting techniques, a medium popular among many furry artists. You can even buy (and I think there is some freewhere) for 3D rendering software. You should really ask some furry artists about what books they would recommend for these because I have no experience in creating original digital art beyond Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
Develop a good library of books that you can refer to when you need to.
Of course, you will need to practice, practice, practice. A good way to do this is to find a few artists you admire and start copying their works. This is not meant to plagiarize what others have done, but rather to help you observe the skills of people you consider masters in the craft and, by emulating them, develop your own skills.
If you like—and if your ego can handle it—join a furry artist group online, share your art, and have others critique it, hopefully in a constructive way.
Above all, if you wish to improve as an artist, set aside an hour or more a day when you can be alone with your art supplies and focus on your art without interruption. Even better, get outside (a zoo or park) and find subjects to paint and draw!
I'm not sure what to write here or even what the response I receive will be, with that said, hello, first time writing to ya.
I suppose I should start off at the beginning of what put me into my current situation, just a few years ago I joined the US Army, went through the training, deployed to Afghanistan once, got back to the states and did some bullshit for the next few months and eventually left the military with an honorable discharge.
After this I moved in with my folks and spent some time off just living on the money I saved up in the military, then started looking for a job, couldn't find one, money dried up, parents asked me to move out. The trailer I was living in on their property didn't have heat anyways and winter was approaching quickly, I heard of a homeless veteran shelter and moved in there.
Its not a bad place, its clean, safe and has food available, its just, still can't find a job, last couple months I've been pretty depressed about my situation, enough that I have had certain thoughts that I would prefer not to mention here but I am sure you will suggest I seek a "licensed professional."
Honestly I prefer not speaking to one, reasons being that with the current state of the country, and the fact that if one of these "licensed professionals" can legally strip me of my second amendment rights if they feel my mental state is not within a certain standard. I do not want to wake up one day with a police officer knocking on my door demanding my firearms because of some bout of depression I was treated for. I wouldn't be surprised if I am on some type of government watch list for the sole reason of serving this country.
I suppose that is all I have to write for now, maybe you have some advice for my situation.
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I would like to start my reply by giving you a big “Thank You!” for bravely serving your country and all of us who remained at home. That was a selfless thing to do and must be acknowledged. I think it is pretty awesome that there are furries in the military (I assume you’re a furry and that’s how you found my column.)
Papabear can understand your reticence about seeking professional help. I often suggest to writers who contact me that they do such, but more important is that you reach out to someone when you are troubled. And I think it is a very good sign that you have written to me that you are thinking clearly and have not sunk so low as to be a danger to yourself or others.
It is also understandable that at this point in your life you would be depressed. Who wouldn’t be? You have put your life on the line only to come back and find yourself jobless and kicked out of your parents’ home.
It is a dirty shame that, for the most part, our federal government has fallen down on the job when it comes to helping veterans, especially when it comes to getting jobs and reestablishing themselves in mainstream society. Nevertheless, if you haven’t already done so, I would recommend you contact Veteran Affairs at http://www.va.gov/. The VA not only has medical assistance to those who need it, but also job training and job search programs. That would be a good start.
If you have already done that, then you can also look into private veteran organizations like the National Veterans Foundation (http://nvf.org/) which has chapters throughout the country. A big part of what they do is help vets find work. There is also AmVets (http://www.amvets.org/), which does have training and grant programs, though admittedly a lot of their focus seems to be on helping vets with medical and other financial problems.
On the next level, start connecting to local and war-relevant groups. Since you served in Afghanistan, you are eligible to join the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (http://iava.org) for free. The IAVA is focused on assisting with health, training, and employment of veterans of these wars.
Finally, you can search for local organizations in your state, county, or city. Search under “veterans for veterans” and see what you can locate using Google. Or, you could probably get recommendations from the IAVA if you asked their office.
Oh! And don’t forget your furiends! Connect with military furs at such places as http://militaryfurries.livejournal.com/ and http://furry4life.org/forum/topics/military-furs. This might not lead to a job, but it will give you some social support that you might need.
As you can see, Rob, getting help and reaching out doesn’t necessarily mean looking for a mental health professional. My instinct is that you are not crazy or a danger in any way; you are simply depressed because of the southward turn your life has taken. I hope that some of the information above can put you on a course toward helping you find your way out of your present situation.
Papabear Salutes You!
That British 'yote's back again. In other words, hello.
I'm stuck in a bit of a tricky situation regarding my education and its driving me mad.
I train as a mechanic for a good part of my school time and if I was to assess how good I was at it, I would say I was mediocre, not too shabby, but nothing to write home about. Thing is, my mother believes that I am superb at it and that I can do it better than anyone else. Which I can't.
I went to do some work experience, I do it once a fortnight and apparently they think I'm very good as well.
I am a sort of glass-half-empty kinda guy when it comes to myself and my traits and abilities, so perhaps my opinion is twisted, but I generally am not that good at it. Most of the other kids in my class can tear breaks down and rebuild them about 4x faster and more efficiently than I can. But I am very good at the theory stuff, which isn't the most use in the real world. My only other strength over the others is that they’re all nasty bulling arsehole's and I like to think I'm not :P.
Should I stop thinking I'm bad at it and accept that people think I'm good and then run the risk of getting a job off other people’s merits and being rubbish, or just tell my mum I'm useless, even though I might just think I'm rubbish, but not be?
Thanks for any help.
Fred E Coyote (age 15)
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Welcome back, Fred,
In a world where people seem very eager and quick to tell others that they suck, when you hear the opposite then you should take that as a good indication that you do not suck. Now, if it was just your mother praising you, then I could see why you might have some doubt, since mother’s always think highly of their children (well, most do). But you said that the place where you went to get some work experience also had people who felt you were good at your job, so I would run with that opinion.
You are being too self-critical. You know it, too, which is why you call yourself a glass-half-empty person.
So some of your peers can do things faster, so what? Faster doesn’t always mean better. I can get a McDonald’s burger pretty quickly, but it tastes like crap. I would rather wait 20 minutes to get a delicious burger from my favorite restaurant in Palm Springs than a mealy piece of meat injected with chemicals from New Jersey so it vaguely tastes like beef between overly processed buns.
You’re good at theory? Well, perhaps you could become a teacher yourself someday, and that definitely has value. Or, perhaps you should continue your interest in things mechanical and consider studying engineering of some type, or maybe become a CAD/CAM designer. Don’t sell the powers of analytical ability short. This ability of yours might mean you are a little slower repairing a car’s breaks, but could lead to something greater than working in a service shop.
And you’re not a “bullying arsehole”? Well, bravo! There are far too many of those in the world and it’s good to find a person who is genuinely not an arse. That has value, as well.
To summarize: 1) people think you’re good at what you do, 2) you excel at theory, which is a skill that can be applied to more advanced types of work, and 3) you’re not an arsehole.
For God’s sake, don’t tell you’re mom you’re useless rubbish. You’re not. You’ve got a lot going for you. All that is holding you back is your bad self-esteem. Don't get in the way of your own success.
Hey PAPA BEAR,
I've been having a lot of issues lately with myself and the stability of my own mental and physical well-being but my question here is something I am sure I am not alone in.
The question would be, “How can someone deal with a love triangle scenario?” To kind of explain what I mean I'd have to give a bit of information on what's going on from my perspective at least.
I have had a past love interest with someone before named Mik (pseudonym). My issue with that is at one point I had a very fond attraction for him and it was nearly mutual till events that both of us are in fault for took place and we lost contact with each other for nearly a year and a half. I had a major downfall during those times of major depression and spells of extreme anger which would bring me to tears from how painful the emotions got. As time went on I slowly started to push my mind and feelings away from the first person I ever fell in love for.
I began dating and when I dated Ane (pseudonym) things turned out a bit well for me since the relationship felt healthy in the most part. It wasn't till Ane came back into contact with Mik that I started to go south in both my mental stability and my emotional progress. For many reasons my feelings for Ane became mixed up as my anger for Mik grew stronger and stronger for leaving me behind for my mistakes. I broke things off with Ane and bellowed my way to being alone.
I had a promiscuous time while I was cooling off and made some regretful decisions however as soon as Mik became more involved with Ane a swell of jealousy started to overwhelm me. I started with a goal of wanting to patch up a friendship between me and Mik and still hold on to what I had left of Ane but what ended up happening was unexpected. I began to fall back into those same feelings I once had for Mik. When I found out Mik and Ane had sexual interactions with one another I lost a part of myself.
The situation I am in right now is that Ane still has great feelings for me yet my feelings are not direct as his are. I have extreme feelings for Mik yet I do not know his true feelings since he only teases me and gives me false hopes that he still holds interests in me as well. Mik now has strong feelings for Ane. Both me and Ane have talked things out constantly and we both know that at one point one of us is going to give up and the triangle we have built ourselves into will exist no more and one of us will be left alone. So far Ane and I have confirmed that these have brought in new hardships and I have resorted to causing personal harm to myself to coup with some of my emotions.
So my question again is ... how or in what way can I or we approach this love triangle that has come into our lives and is causing us hardships?
Linus Lavardo (age 20)
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Let me see if I can summarize this letter into three bullet points:
This is oversimplifying it, but it helps my old brain keep things straight, if you don’t mind.
The weak part of this triangle here—the part I’m not so sure on—is #3: Ane loves Linus. You, Linus, broke it off with Ane and then Ane and Mik had sexual intercourse, so Ane’s love for you seems tenuous at best.
Now, I don’t know what your “mistakes” were that led to the breakup between you and Mik, but it seems Mik had some reason to leave that relationship. But then Mik did something not so cool by taking up a relationship with Ane (if I have this correct) while you and Ane were seeing each other? (I'm a little confused by your statement that "Ane came back into contact with Mik"—as in they new each other before?)
The chronology of what happened here is not very clear from your letter. Were Ane and Mik just friends when you, in a fit of jealousy, broke it off with Ane and THEN Ane and Mik had sex? OR, did Ane and Mik have sex and then you became jealous and broke it off with Ane? OR, were Ane and Mik at least being very amorous, even though they didn’t have sex, thus inspiring your jealousy?
If Ane and Mik were just friends and you broke it off with Ane, then you really have no right to your moral outrage if they later had sex. However, if they had sex first or at least became romantically involved, then you are at least somewhat justified in being angry. In that case, though, why would you want either one as a partner? The triangle is really broken at this point and you should not be under the delusion that there still is one.
If the former is the case, and they only had sex after your broke it off with Ane, then you have no ground to stand on, and if I were Mik or Ane I would wonder why you are so angry when neither one was your boyfriend at the time.
As you can see, love triangles (as opposed to polygamous relationships) are inherently dysfunctional. They are about as stable as an Egyptian pyramid that has been flipped upside down. Let’s look at the possible future scenarios:
Linus, even polyamorous relationships rarely work out because they are simply too complicated and there is too much of a tendency for feelings to get hurt. Love triangles are even worse: they are minefields waiting to explode. Best thing for you and all those involved is to break down this geometric nightmare and try something much more linear.
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