I stumbled upon your site a couple of weeks ago and have spent hours reading all your letters. I don't typically read advice columns, but your responses drew me in not only because of the care and compassion in your advice, but also the practicality. It was that particular mix of qualities that finally convinced me to try writing you.
I'm what I would describe as "painfully shy." I've had social anxiety my entire life. It seems like other shy people are able to somehow step out of themselves online, and are able to socialize and make friends without the hang-ups they feel in real life. I've never been able to do this; I've always felt the same nervousness online as I do in real social situations.
As I've gotten older, it's gotten far worse. When I was younger, I was able to join a few newsgroups and forums and make some online friends. However, we all drifted away, as online friends tend to do, to the point where I've become a virtual hermit. But I miss having people to talk to online, particularly furry friends. I haven't gone to a furry con in almost ten years, since they're mainly social events and I don't know anyone anymore.
But every time I try to join a furry website, my anxiety ratchets up to such an extreme level, it just seems easier to go back to browsing Tumblr than actually putting myself out there. I found an IRC browser client to connect to Furnet, but wasn't brave enough to even go into any of the channels. It feels like everyone already knows each other and I'm too scared to try to break into the clique, because I have the mother from Carrie inside my head, screaming "They're all going to laugh at you!" It took me a few weeks to work up the nerve to even write this letter!
Do you have any advice for how I can manage my anxiety enough that I can actually function socially online? Or maybe recommend a friendly, non-intimidating place to start?
Thanks for taking the time to read my letter! I hope you have a wonderful new year!
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I know exactly how you feel because I myself am an extremely shy person. I went through school and college mostly trying to make myself unnoticeable by other people because I was so self-conscious about things like being fair-skinned (a crime punishable by death, apparently, when growing up in Southern California in the 1970s). People would make fun of me all the time, calling me “Caspar the Friendly Ghost.” I was also no good at sports and would get bullied a lot. People would even make fun of me for being smart. It seemed like nothing I did was right (speech class was a nightmare that almost made me wet myself); the person I was was just not acceptable to society. In some ways, even as an adult, I have faced this. I have been called a “furvert” because I’m a furry, and I’ve had people yell out of cars as they drove by, calling me a “faggot.” Even with this column, although the majority of people writing to me have complimented my work (and thanks so much for your kind words; you don’t know how much they help), I still get people criticizing me, even hating me to the point it makes me cry. Eventually, though, I get over it, realizing that a lot of people in my life love and respect me, so why should I be so concerned about someone who doesn’t even know me.
I am a lot better now than I was, and I’ll tell you how I got here, so that maybe my experience might help you.
One of the first things that helped me out of my shell was the mime troupe that Reverend John Powers organized at my college chapel and that my now-ex introduced me to. Yes, I was a mime! LOL. But it really helped me a lot to perform in front of other people wearing white-face and not having to speak. The next big thing that really really helped me was being a volunteer at the Detroit Zoo and then Potter Park Zoo. Because I really cared about animals and the docent classes taught me a lot about them, the fear of speaking in public in front of children, teens, and adults alike melted away because I was doing something I was passionate about. Being a docent is really what cured me of my anxiety about speaking in public (a common fear among many people). Then, a third experience that has helped me is fursuiting. Sort of a combination of mime and acting, fursuiting allowed me to do something I could never do before (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEuRpX9GRj8).
Performance techniques and doing something I really believe in are the two ways I myself have overcome much of my social anxiety. Also, when you do things like this, it really helps you to make friends because you will inevitably meet other people who share your passions, and they will often become your friends.
The reason, as you observed, that a lot of people overcome their shyness on the Internet—especially if they adopt a cover such as a fursona—is the same reason actors overcome their shyness: they are able to protect their fragile egos by wearing the masks of their alter egos.
But this technique doesn’t seem to be working well in your case. The key here is to try to get over being self-conscious and focusing too much on yourself and the idea that people are staring at you and judging you all the time. The truth is, most other people around you are doing the same thing: they are thinking about themselves and what other people think of them. Therefore, if you realize this, you might conclude that most people are not spending their time judging you because they are too busy worrying about others judging them.
There are a lot of other techniques you can look into that can help you overcome shyness. I was going to type them out here, but I discovered a wonderful article you should read that I think does a better job than I could: http://thinksimplenow.com/happiness/20-ways-to-attack-shyness/.
The thing to remember is that you are a unique and valuable person who has talents and abilities that can contribute to the world. Human beings need to stop spending so much time judging others and, instead, maybe focus on improving who they themselves are.
Your shyness is born out of the worry over what other people think of you. When you realize that other people either are too focused on themselves to spend time judging you or that those who do judge you usually do so because they are petty and narrow-minded and not worth your respect, you can get over much of the anxiety you’re experiencing.
What’s even better is that once you get over worrying about other people’s opinions, it will help you notice the people who are not jerks, the ones who are what I call “good friend material.” There are a lot of them out there, but you have to get over that shyness to meet them. I hope that the above, including the link, will help you do that.
Once you start to find a few friends (and there are a lot of furries in your boat—a lot of people are new to the fandom, which is growing by leaps and hounds ... er, bounds) it will be easier to interact more at things like furmeets and cons. I remember my first Prancing Skiltaire party. I felt, like you do, that everyone already knew everyone, but it helped me tremendously because my dear bear friend Cyberbear took me there, so I had someone to talk to and introduce me around a bit. May you find a friend like that in your life soon!
Good luck, and Happy New Year!
P.S. So, dear readers, would any of you care to share your experiences? I know a lot of you have probably been in the same boat as Ami here. How did you get over your shyness?
P.P.S. (Jan 2) I just read this interesting article about stage fright. It suggests an alternative approach to overcoming stage fright.
I'd like to first thank you for running this lovely site and this lovely column. I've browsed through your letters and responses now and then, always admiring the unbiased approach you take and the useful advice you give. In a world where so much seems changing it's reassuring to know that there are always logical steps that can be taken to move forward.
I have so many questions! And maybe that's indicative of my life at the moment. It would be a lie to say I'm in a very mentally stable position – I haven't been for some time. I think that's possibly useful information for the question to come. I'd like to ask about not poly relationships in general, but rather my own poly relationship. And I guess the question most on my mind, the one that keeps me up at night is, “Am I doing the right thing?” To expand, “Am I doing the right thing by them?”
I met my boyfriend roughly a year ago. It's long distance, but with plans to meet and be with one another in the very near future. He's saved a lot of money (as an artist with no secondary job, I find saving more then a few hundred to be difficult, but I cannot help but feel I've failed him if he has to provide the majority of the money for air fares and such!) and we're planning on being together in person for the first time around February-March of the new year. I was initially very hesitant to get into a relationship with him, I know I've had trouble in the past maintaining any sort of relationship and what with being transgendered (male to female) there are some rather large mental barriers to work through before I can promise him much in the way of physical intimacy. And yet everything seemed to fall into place. He was perfect for me. Supportive, caring, forgiving of my faults. He is himself an artist with more ability to pour himself into his art than I've ever seen.
Then she came along. Much like I had with him, I fell rather instantly in love with her. When we spoke I was the happiest I had been in weeks. When I could make her smile it ... well, you get the idea. She's transgendered, too, and I feel a strong empathy for her. I want to help her through life and, if the possibility of a poly relationship had not been open, I would have striven to stay by her side and make sure that she was happy, whatever happened.
I guess the “problem” is that a poly relationship was possible. That is to say, I approached the topic gently with my boyfriend and after convincing him that it was by no means a failure on his part that I had room in my heart for two people, he agreed that the idea of a poly relationship was worth exploring. And so we did.
Now at every junction my boyfriend seems cripplingly insecure. Whilst my girlfriend is content to spend but a fraction of every week together, my boyfriend grows upset if we cannot spend every day with one another. I feel like I can't do things with my other friends because I'm pressured to be on Skype with him all the time and explain myself when I want to do other things. Although he claims that my going and doing my own thing is okay, he starts to fall apart if I'm absent for more then a day or two. A week ago I felt guilty that I hadn't spent enough time with my girlfriend, so I got a commission from another artist of our characters hugging. My boyfriend went off the deep end, telling me he thought I'd much rather be seen in public with her character than his. It felt like my commitment was being questioned, which I felt unfair considering how much of my time I spend with him.
To make matters worse, I literally cannot argue very much with my boyfriend. If he perceives any danger of us breaking up, he'll back down. Is it bad that I don't share this trait? That I would rather see if we're right for each other than cling to the hope that we are and that if we don't talk about things everything will be all right?
I feel like there's much I can't explain in this letter. There're aspects of the relationship that I just can't do justice to in one document. I love both of them dearly – so what do I do? Am I doing the right thing? Trying to fight for this three-ringed circus of a relationship when they have no interest in each other, only me, or am I being selfish? Despite what he's said, my boyfriend is clearly not interested in a poly relationship yet with all that's happened. I'm not sure I could go back to a relationship with just me and him and I know the very idea would break my girlfriend's heart. I would very much like to hear your insight.
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Dear Lucky Cow,
Reading through your letter, I think you pretty much understand the situation and are just waiting to hear from an outside, objective voice whether or not you are correct.
While your boyfriend says he’s okay with the polyamorous relationship you’re exploring, both you and I know that he really doesn’t want to share you with your girlfriend. As for your girlfriend, you don’t say enough about her for me to really gauge her feelings. My sense is that she is a little more secure in this, so far, because you are currently able to see each other in real life. This might change drastically once your boyfriend is with you in the physical sense.
Polyamorous relationships are extremely difficult and only work if everyone involved is 100% on board. This is not the case with you. If you try to force the situation because you want both of them in your life, you are bound to be disappointed and, quite likely, will hurt one or both of them.
So it is, Lucky Cow, that I would advise you to make a choice. Take your time and think long and hard about what you wish to do. Weigh the pros and cons and also, of course, take into account your instincts and your emotions. In the end, though, based on what you have told me here, I don’t see a polyamorous relationship working between the three of you. Pick your boyfriend, or pick your girlfriend, not both.
Before you do that, however, I want you to reflect on who you are as a person. Why do you think it is that you want a polyamorous relationship? Would you ever be satisfied with just one person to love for the rest of your life? If so, then my instinct tells me you should go with the boyfriend; if not, then the girlfriend seems a more viable option. But be prepared for the possibility that she, too, might seek other lovers, which means you would find yourself in a situation analogous to the one in which your boyfriend now finds himself. When it comes to polyamory, must you be the focus of the group dynamic? Or would you be content to be a satellite lover?
Only you can answer that question. Figure it out before you take the next step.
I want to go to a furmeet, but when I asked my parents, they were worried about stranger danger due to problems with my vision, lack of physical strength, and trouble interpreting social cues. I used "furry convention" instead of "furmeet" because I thought that if I'd said "furmeet" they'd worry that I wanted to meet a fur I'd been talking to online (the online communication was discovered and ended long before I asked my parents about going to a furmeet). Other than "if you're worried about my safety, you can be my chaperone" and "I've taken self-defense classes" I can't come up with any convincing arguments. Do you have any? The reason I'm telling you this is because I'm uncomfortable bringing it up with my parents.
Alec (age 18)
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Thanks for writing. Sounds like you might have some physical problems and mild autism? I can understand why your parents might be concerned. Since you are physically weak, as you say, yeah, I don’t think the “I’ve taken self-defense classes” would work, plus it implies that you might think there would be a reason you’d have to take such classes. On the other paw, having one or both parents chaperone is not a bad idea at all, and, if you haven’t suggested it already, you might give that a try.
As an alternative, do you have any friends or other relatives your parents trust who would go with you to a furmeet? That would work just as well as one of your parents going.
My question to you would be: what do you do in other situations where there is social interaction with people your age at a party. Do your parents trust you to do things independently and, if so, why wouldn’t they trust you with a furmeet? It’s not really a con, but if you don’t like the word “meet” try “party.” Why treat a furmeet differently from any other social gathering?
I also suggest that before going to a meet like this, you have some of your furry friends come by the house and meet with you and your parents. You see, your parents are nervous because they don’t know any of the people you are about to see at the meet, yes? But if they actually knew them and met them, and came to know them as your friends not just strangers at a party, then they would get to know and trust them. If your parents are comfortable with your being a furry, surely this would not be a problem. Once they know you are just going to hang out with furries you already know and perhaps meet a few new ones, they should be more comfortable with the idea.
Understand, Alec, that your parents are only concerned about your welfare. It’s not about not trusting you, it’s about your safety. Try the suggestions above to get them to feel better that you will be safe and you stand a better chance of going and having a good time.
Papabear has been a fan of the show "Family Guy" since it began, although some episodes go too over the top for my taste. Some of you may watch the show and know that the character of Brian the dog got killed a couple episodes back. He was run over by a car. A lot of people were upset by this, and I was a little pissed, too, but I thought, "Hey, that was a bold move, so let's see where Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator, is going with this."
Turns out he just took advantage of the fact that, after all, this is a cartoon, and had Stewie fix his time machine and rescue Brian. Today, Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator, announced that he did the episode around Chrismastime to teach us a lesson to "Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash." (see
While this is true, I have to say I take some issue with Mr. MacFarlane's methods. First of all, in the episode where Brian is killed, you might think that he would do something like this: show the car coming, cut away to Stewie's reaction, then cut back to the scene where Brian lies dying on the street. But noooo, MacFarlane actually slows down the show and you get to see every bone-crushing, tissue-squeezing, blood-spurting frame of a beloved character getting the life squashed out of him. Absolutely disgusting and the very definition of "gratuitous."
Yes, it's just a cartoon, but it's still shocking.
Then we go through two episodes of seeing the family in serious emotional pain, especially Stewie, a little child of one (even though he is a genius). Then we are introduced to a new character, another dog who can talk, but with an Italian mafioso accent, and the dog appears in the opening credits.
But no, it's just a stunt. Brian is brought back to life, and we are left with the patronizing message from MacFarlane that we should sit cross-legged on the floor, innocent eyes wide, while the teacher explains to us the hard facts of life.
Well, Mr. MacFarlane, you might not realize this, but I watch your show for a little escapist animated fun, not to be "treated" to a snuff film. If I want to watch drama, I'll click over to "CSI" or "Law & Order." Secondly, your show is geared to adults who have been through just as much, if not more, than you have. How dare you think that you are wiser than everyone else watching your show and assume we don't know how painful and cruel life can be? How dare you say, in effect, that we take our loved ones for granted and therefore need to be taught a lesson through a cartoon? Finally, if you're going to use "Family Guy" as a podium to spout your diatribes to the public, then at least come up with something less cliched than "don't take your loved ones for granted."
Am I overreacting? Yes, probably, because, again, it's just a cartoon, not real life. I suppose MacFarlane might have seen a reason to write this based on the fact that he lost his mother to cancer in 2010, and perhaps he felt he took her for granted and that the lesson he learned should be conveyed to others.
But there is a time and a place for everything, and a cartoon that is supposed to make you laugh and be frivolous fun is not the place for a message like this one.
You see, what Mr. MacFarlane might not realize is that there are some very emotionally vulnerable people out there, and some of them watch his shows. MacFarlane noted, "Oh and hey… thanks for caring so much about the canine Griffin. He is overcome with gratitude.”
Perhaps he doesn't realize how emotionally manipulative his little stunt was. I've had some people write to Papabear in the past who take their fictional characters very seriously, and some get very upset when writers "kill" them. Some people out there can, indeed, be mentally unstable, and killing someone dear to them could be very painful.
Here is one example: http://yilb.com/14-year-old-boy-commits-suicide-over-anime-character.
Television and movies are very powerful. And, as Spiderman said (since we're talking fiction), "with great power comes great responsibility."
I suppose another reason I am upset is that I take my readers extremely seriously. I would never make light of someone else's emotional pain, and it offends me that someone like MacFarlane has treated such a serious subject with such utter contempt for the emotions and intelligence of his audience.
I have been a furry for about a couple of months now and I have told some of my friends that I'm a furry, but not my mom or dad. I am kind of afraid to tell my mom or dad. One: My mom would probably think I'm weird and criticize me and two: my dad is a Jehovah’s Witness and might hate me for the rest of my life. My dad is extremely religious. I just want my mom or dad to know so that I don't have to "hide in the shadows," if you know what I mean. I have five furry shirts I wear to school and then I have to quickly change out of them for my mom cannot see. I just feel too embarrassed to reveal myself. Help. Thank you.
Feisty Ferret (age 16)
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Papabear has received quite a few letters like yours over the last year and a half, as you might imagine, and the last few I received about furries and their parents I simply wrote to them offline since my readers have seen these before.
When it comes to Christianity and furries, I have, in the past, referred furries to several Christian furry groups (cf. http://www.askpapabear.com/1/post/2012/06/christian-gay-and-furry.html, for example), but Jehovah’s Witnesses present a challenge because they are quite different from most other types of Christianity. They do not believe in the Holy Trinity, and their concept of Jesus is very different in that they do not see Him as an iteration of God, but, rather, as a being separate from God and also not strictly the Son of God, yet they still believe that salvation is found only through Jesus. So, referring you to other Christian groups might not be helpful in your case.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are strict in their lifestyle, very opposed to anything that might be misconstrued as idolatry and opposed to celebrations such as Christmas and national holidays, which they feel are paganist (actually, they are quite correct on that account).
Why do I bring all this up? Well, because, despite all this, I do not know of any reason for a Jehovah’s Witness to object to someone being a furry. As long as you make it clear that your furriness has nothing to do with paganism and is not a rejection of your faith (I’m assuming you are a Jehovah’s Witness, too? If not, that is an entirely different letter, so let’s just focus on the furry issue). There is certainly nothing in the Bible that says you can’t put on a fursuit or enjoy a Disney film like Bambi just because it has talking animals in it (especially since those things didn’t exist back in biblical days!)
What you need to make crystal clear to your father is that furry has nothing to do with paganism or perversion or anything that might be offensive to his JW sensibilities (again, I’m operating here under certain assumptions, such as that you are not taking furry to a spiritual level but merely to a hobbyist level). Surely your father would be okay with your having a fun hobby? Would he, for instance, object if you wanted to be a mascot for your football team and dress as a bulldog or tiger? Does he object to people who like science fiction or fantasy books? Explain furry in those terms. The fandom, after all, began with a bunch of sci-fi enthusiasts, not fursuiters.
As for your mother, approach her in a similar way: being furry is just a way to have fun and socialize. (Even Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that having fun is okay). As long as you aren’t doing anything shameful, there shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed about, right? Right. When you say that you fear your mom will think you are “weird and criticize me,” is that because you know her views about furries or are you putting words in her mouth based on your personal feelings of embarrassment?
The problem with many young furries is they are apparently being taught from the outset that furry is something to be ashamed of. This is a lesson I have had to unlearn myself, even recently, and it is something that is very difficult to fight. You and I, and all furries, need to not be embarrassed about ourselves. Because, you know what? Many times when we finally admit to friends and family we are furries, they are fine with it! I know, shocking, right? The people who are fine with it are those who either A) don’t know what furry is and so have no bad preconceptions about it, or B) have a rock-solid understanding of furry and realize that there is nothing wrong with it. It is only with the misinformed and partially informed that problems may arise, in which case it is up to the furry to educate and dispel the misconceptions. (Such people are easy to spot, such as one time when I was at a party and asked a guy if he knew what a furry was, and his reply was, “Oh, yeah, you’re one of those furverts.”)
At any rate, let’s go through the possible scenarios here: 1) you can keep doing what you’re doing and, eventually, when you move out of your parents’ house you can live life as you see fit, 2) you can tell your parents you are furry in a way that they can accept and everything will be all right, 3) you can tell your parents you like furry stuff, and if they reject that, you can say, okay, I didn’t realize it would offend you so much so I will stop (and then go back to option 1), or 4) you can tell your parents you are a furry, they decide to be jerks and hate you even though you are their flesh and blood, and you get thrown out of the house and have to fend for yourself (possibly what you are fearing most, no?) Obviously, avoid 4 at all costs.
There’s actually one more option similar to #1: what I call the “It’s No Big Deal” gambit. Don’t tell them you’re a furry, but don’t hide it, either. Don’t make it a big deal (that’s important). Go ahead and wear a furry T-shirt at home, but don’t comment on it. If they ask, just say something like, “Oh, just a fun shirt I thought was kinda cool, no biggie.” Don’t hide furry stuff on your computer (but DON’T have furporn on your computer). Watch movies like Kung Fu Panda and Open Season without hiding those, either, and go ahead and leave out comic books and graphic novels in the open, as long as they are not, again, porn.
This is actually the option I would recommend. If you are not afraid to be yourself, if you don’t behave in an embarrassed or ashamed manner, then your parents won’t pick up on the idea that this might be something to be ashamed of or hide, rather like if you were smoking weed, hiding it in a drawer, and then, after your mother stumbles on it, claiming it is potpourri. Parents aren’t stupid (well, most aren’t), so don’t treat them like they are and don’t treat them like the enemy.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Dear Papabear and fellow readers,
It's been quite some time since we've last chatted, but something has been on my mind for the past few days, and I thought I'd ask you and your readers about it. This isn't so much a personal problem as it is asking someone's opinion.
Skipping right along to the question, why or why not would you date another furry?
I realize this is a very short and to the point question, but there's literally no big story behind it. Like I said, it's a question for you and your readers to all answer, not a personal issue. So, go ahead and voice your opinion.
Again, this is for anyone to answer as they see fit. :)
Holiday wishes to all,
* * *
As with any other kind of relationship, whether or not it is a good choice to date someone all depends on who you are and who the other person is on a deeper level than furriness. It’s really unfair to say “all furries are like this” and so I would/would not date one. No two furries are the same. That said, let’s talk generalities.
The advantage of dating a furry if you are a furry yourself is that you have something in common. You are more likely to be able to relate to each other and like doing the same things together.
The disadvantages....? I really can’t think of any.
To add a corollary to the question: if you are a furry, should you limit yourself to dating only other furries? And the answer to that would be “No, but if the other person is not a furry they should be comfortable with the fact that you are one.”
So, readers, what do you think? Sil asked for your opinions, too, not just mine. Feel free to chime in.
My name is Cyrus and I want to write a furry comic.
It's a horror story about a cat, down on her luck, who recently lost her job. She moves into her childhood house in the countryside because she thinks she should get away from all the stress of the city. But as she stays in that house alone, her traumatic past comes back to haunt her and she finds herself being stalked by a monstrous figure.
I have the story and characters in my head, but when it comes to projects like this, I always have trouble sticking to it. I have attempted to write comics in the past, but I never finished any of them because I have trouble sticking to one project. How can I make myself stay on one project?
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A lot of would-be writers have this problem, and many people have ideas for books and stories who never even get as far as you have. There are a couple of things you can do to help you keep on track to finish your creative project:
Hope this helps! Good luck!
Thank you reading this letter. After reading your replies to my previous letters, my problems became easier to deal with, and I can't thank you enough for all the help you provided. You're great!
As months passed since I last wrote to you, my O.C.D. symptoms diminished, and I feel ever closer to being cured. My obsession with cleanliness disappeared, as well as my fears of religion, which allowed me to freely assume that I am agnostic. My interest in a male partner vanished completely, and I lost all interest in males. I don't know whether it was a phase, or my O.C.D., though it matters little. To cut a long story short, things are much better now, thanks to your help.
But unfortunately, they are not perfect. As my O.C.D. symptoms became less and less frequent, my colleagues started to mock me more and more. They are aware of my condition (it became obvious when my condition was worse), but they still laugh at me, as well as my teachers and people on general, and it became impossible to put up with.
It can't say it didn't affect me. I think I grew to become a misanthrope. In the future, I plan to move to another country. Both because I want to and because I feel like I need to turn over a new leaf. And here lies the problem.
I am a nationalist, in the good sense of the word, of course. And while I'd rather see my country flourish, it lies in ruins. The economy is bad, unemployment is rising, and I can't live anymore. Not in here.
But I want to do the best I can in the new country I call home. I want to contribute to society to obtain a new citizenship, and to be able to feel like a nationalist in my new country.
My question is the following: Can I become a nationalist in a new country, in a new place that I'll call home? If so, what do you call that? Is there a specific definition for an immigrant who becomes a nationalist and loves his new-found home?
Thank you for your time.
C-Ratchet (age 20)
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Thank you for telling me about your progress with OCD; I’m glad you’re doing better. Remember that, just because the symptoms are getting better, you should stay on top of this to make sure that you don’t regress back to where you were originally.
I am puzzled as to why people would start mocking you more and more as your OCD lessened. What are they mocking you about? It isn’t clear in your letter, but let’s move on to your interest in emigrating to another country.
The first point I must make is that moving is not a solution to escaping people you don’t like, and if you are, indeed, a misanthrope, you will certainly not escape that problem unless you live in a cave or in the wilderness all by yourself. Barring that, you will find that people are people, wherever you may go. Could it be that you are simply more aware of them mocking you because you are not preoccupied with your OCD symptoms and, hence, able to observe others’ behavior more? The question also becomes: are they really mocking you or are you taking offense to some perceived slights on their part? It is difficult for me to say without being more informed of the circumstances.
Let’s say, however, that you simply wish to make a new start. Why another country? Why not just another region of this country? America is quite diverse, and you will find that living in the Midwest is very culturally different from living in Southern California, which is different from living in New England, which is very different from living in Louisiana or Hawaii or Alaska, and so forth. Perhaps you don’t need to go to such an extreme as becoming an expat and could find happiness by discovering a region of the country you aver to love so well that is more suited to your sensibilities.
Barring all that, and asserting that all Americans are inconsiderate ass-wipes who will mock you wherever you go and there is no region of the country where you can escape such abuse, let’s talk emigration.
Is it possible to become a patriot and nationalist of your new country? Certainly! People immigrating to America have done so for centuries, and it works in reverse, too. Depending on which country you go to, you will have to explore their legal processes in becoming a citizen. Also, don’t forget the possibility of holding a dual citizenship in your old and new countries. I would very much recommend this, because you can never know what might happen, and it would be wise to leave your options open and be able to return to the U.S. should the need arise.
Keep in mind the culture shock effect, too. Depending on your tolerance for such, and your skills in learning languages, this will determine whether you might prefer moving to an Anglo-type country like Canada or Australia versus something more extreme, like the Czech Republic or Botswana. Such a drastic move takes a lot of preparation. Research the laws and customs of the country you plan to move to and you will adapt better.
Papabear recommends, still, that before you take such a drastic leap in your life you should reconsider and explore your options right here in the U.S. I am reminded of a dear friend of mine who became very disgruntled with the United States and decided to move to Norway with her husband. While some things were better (she broke an ankle slipping on the ice—because Norway is an ice rink 12 months a year—and it was quickly repaired by the efficient medical system there at no expense to her, thank you very much), but other things were much worse. She found that she and her husband were treated very poorly by some people there and that the living expenses were so high that they could barely get by, so it didn’t work out very well. She's now living in Arizona.
While moving to a new area can, indeed, be a fresh start, do so for the right reasons. Yogi and I moved from Michigan to California to be closer to our parents, because the economy was better, because the weather is MUCH better, and because the community here in the Coachella Valley is accepting of gay couples. Those are good reasons. Other good reasons would be to leave because you are seeking political asylum or you are being oppressed for your religion, which is why so many came to this country. In other words, because people are trying to kill or imprison you, which I don’t think is happening in your case :-P
A bad reason is to move away because you are trying to run away from your problems that lie within. That is, problems that may stem from you more than the environment you are in. If people are taunting you, perhaps instead of running away you should stick up for yourself and prove your mockers that they are wrong. If they are attacking you because of a physical or psychological handicap, for example, you may have reason to consult an attorney and take legal action. You are 20 years old; old enough to assert yourself and tell people like that to (pardon my French) fuck off.
If what upsets you is the current economic and political situation in the United States, maybe instead of running away from it you could become part of the solution by becoming politically active in your community and trying to help your country. That’s something patriots do, doncha know. When Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and the other Founding Fathers got pissed about the situation in the Colonies, they combined the two strategies above, first telling King George, "To be sure, Your Highness, the flaccid organ betwixt your noble legs should thus fit cozily within your anal region," and then, instead of leaving, they carried political activism to extremes.
You ask what do you call someone who moves to another country and adopts that place as his or her home. You can call that person a nationalist or patriot, just as you would here in America. Or you could call that person someone who is trying to hide from life. Which are you?
Think about it.
This is my first time doing this, so I’m a bit nervous, please forgive me. So you know how everyone has a sexuality? Like bi gay straight pan or any other that I missed. Well I’m very confused with my sexuality. In real life‚ I like girls, but I’m not sure if I like guys. But with the Internet and furries, I tend to like guys a lot more than woman. I’m not exactly sure what I am. I’m very very confused. I come to you because I can’t go to anyone else. My parents said if I was ever gay they would kick me out of my house. Plus I’ve read a couple of your answers to letters and you seem very knowledgeable. So please help me if you can.
Jake (age 18)
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Thank you for writing and reaching out to someone when, sadly, your parents aren’t there for you as they should be. It makes this bear weep that there are so many judgmental parents who would rather have their own children homeless than love them unconditionally for who they are. (40% of homeless children on American streets are LGBT kids whose parents kicked them out; that’s criminal in my book). Never forget, Jake, that your sexuality, whatever it may be, does not make you a bad (or good) person. It is what it is, no less and no more.
At your age, it is normal to be confused at times about your sexuality. This is a time for discovering who you are. Sometimes, people who are young and getting in touch with their sexuality experiment, so to speak, with various people and sexual practices. This is normal, too. Sometimes, too, someone who is unsure of his or her sexuality may have relations with someone of the same sex. Most will decide it is not for them and go back to a traditional heterosexual relationship, but some will decide they do like it and discover that they are gay or bi.
In the past, such experimentation would be conducted in the real world, but now we have this entire new virtual reality that offers sex play on the Internet. This is unprecedented in human history and is something that society is still coming to terms with. Nevertheless, it has become a testing ground for experimentation, with its good and bad points. The bad point is that having some role play, say, in SecondLife, does not afford you the tactile and other sensory pleasures of real life; the good point is that, when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, you cannot get safer than the virtual world (unless you pick up a computer virus!)
Just like in real life, you can try things online to see how you feel about them. You might not like them and then try something else. But, here’s the thing that’s really unique: you might like them in the virtual world but not in real life. I can attest to this personally. There are things that Papabear has done with role play online that I would never ever do in real life, either because I don’t think I’d find them very pleasurable IRL or because, LOL, they would be physically impossible. Therefore, just because you like something online, Jake, it does not necessarily follow you would in real life. Online, you might have sex with a gay wolf or lion, but in the real world you could still prefer women. And that’s perfectly fine.
On the other paw, it could be, as you suspect, a signal that you have some subconscious desire to be intimate with another man. The important thing right now for you, Jake, is to not push yourself one way or the other. Rather than telling yourself, “I have to be straight because of my parents so I will only date women,” or the opposite, “I have sexual desires for men so I must be gay and have to find a man now,” simply hang out with people of your age group in comfortable social settings and see whom you meet. Look for someone you can love as a person regardless of their gender—that person whose smile makes your heart flutter in your chest—and you will find your answer.
As for your parents’ reaction, well, you are 18, which is about the time for you to start fending for yourself anyway. Your parents are no longer legally obligated to support you, although one would hope they would still support you emotionally and not reject their flesh and blood because they fear gay cooties, or the rage of those whose farts warm the seats of church pews, or whatever goes through the minds of people like that. It’s disappointing they feel that way, and a poor reflection on them, but more important than what your parents think and feel is how you think and feel.
It is time for you to discover yourself, and, once you do, consider yourself very lucky no matter what others think. So many people in this world lead “lives of quiet desperation,” as Henry David Thoreau put it, because they allow themselves to be ruled by society rather than ruling themselves.
Put your fears aside, Jake, for they will befuddle your mind, and you will see yourself as you truly are.
Alright, so I fell in love with a fox furry and he is trying to stick to the whole typical fox characteristics of being really yiffy and wanting to yiff and have more than one mate. We dated for a year; he proposed, but then I started accusing him of cheating and found out he was but it was just online and by text and that made me more paranoid and I accused him more. He broke up with me on Thanksgiving Day, right after I went too far and told his friend that it sounded more like he had a mate and I had changed his status on an adult furry website. Now after he cooled down he said we would be on a break till the 19th. He made it sound like he really would take me back; then on the 3rd of December he decided I would be his pet. On the 4th of December he said, no, I want to be friends or nothing. Now he has agreed back to the 19th of December to rethink this. What am I to do? I really love this guy and no one understands that he was the one and only I could ever see standing next to me at the alter. I would agree to any terms he would put before to get him back. What do I do?
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I wonder if you can hear yourself in this letter. He breaks up with you, he decides you’ll go on a break until the 19th, he decides you’ll be his pet, he says you’ll be friends or nothing, he agrees to go back to the 19th and think about it. Sounds like he’s calling all the shots. Where do you factor in this relationship? Well, as you said, you would bend over and do anything he wants for him to be your mate. Doesn’t sound like a good arrangement to this bear’s ears.
In a good relationship, the two partners are on an equal footing. This is built on respect for one another. I don’t see him respecting you too much, as he seems to do whatever he wants in the relationship, but I also don’t see you respecting yourself very much.
Before you worry about your relationship with this fox, you need to find your self-respect. In other words, stop being a door mat. No relationship is worth losing your sense of self-worth. Once that is firmly established, you will be able to have a healthy relationship with someone. As things stand currently, that is not possible.
Put the fox aside for now, hon, and work on yourself.
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.