Has there ever been a relationship thread that didn't overwhelmingly swing "DTMFA?" October 10, 2010 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Has there ever been a relationships thread on Ask Metafilter where the overwhelming response from the crowd WASN'T to DTMFA?

Every time someone asks "Should I break up with X?", there's always this overwhelming list of bad evidence that makes 90% of the thread say to break up with that person. It sure seems like "if you have to ask, the answer is to break up" is the golden rule. (Or at least, if your problem is bad enough to write a couple of pages on to strangers, it's probably bad enough to break up over.)

So out of curiosity, I was wondering if there has ever been a thread on the green that anyone knows of where the overall response WASN'T to break up?
posted by jenfullmoon to MetaFilter-Related at 11:47 AM (79 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I assume you're being hyperbolic. A lot of times people say "you know it sounds like once you're through this rough patch, this relationship has a lot of worthwhile things in it, might be worth going to therapy or looking into other options for making it work."

But really, most of the time people come to AskMe to get support for the decision they've already sort of made. So a question written like "What do I do about my boyfriend/girlfriend who is a total fucking douchebag?" is going to get predictable answers. A question written like "I am trying to work things out during this rough patch" will get very different answers. There have been a few nearly-unanimous AskMes lately and that's actually more unusual than recent history would indicate.

Additionally, you get people trying to figure out how to make the best out of a truly terrible situation and then they say "Breaking up not an option, we really love each other!" and people in the thread pipe up and say "Well, that's all well and good but this relationship sounds like it sucks"

That said, it's easy to tell anonymous internet people to leave their relationships. I think a lot of people have difficulty both making decisions and leaving something comfortable for something unknown. Those people may stay in relationships longer than they should. Sometimes a nudge is helpful. People can always, always, decide to do something different. Or stick with the situation they're in after getting some tough love from the internet strangers.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Well, there's this thread, where the overwhelming response wasn't so much DTMFA (which no one says, as far as I scan it) as "the problem is with you, not your partner, and even if you leave the relationship you're gonna keep the problems." Although there was a fair amount of advice to leave, it was more out of sympathy with the partner than for the OP.
posted by ambrosia at 12:16 PM on October 10, 2010


Gah. This thread.
posted by ambrosia at 12:17 PM on October 10, 2010


There's this one, which wasn't so much "DTMFA" as "dude, you need therapy and to stop obsessing."

it's easy to tell anonymous internet people to leave their relationships

This. I always suspect that if one had a magic spy satellite and could peer down at the people saying "DTMFA!!!!!!!!!!!" you'd see an awful lot of bad relationships going on.
posted by Forktine at 12:33 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Browsing through AskMe's tagged with 'breakup' would be first place to look.
posted by nomadicink at 12:35 PM on October 10, 2010


Yes.
posted by Miko at 12:36 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are people on AskMe who would shout "divorce now!" to someone complaining that their husband's socks never match. And one of those people seems to show up in every relationship thread, to my frequent amusement. But that doesn't mean the majority opinion is always to dump the problematic partner.


I always suspect that if one had a magic spy satellite and could peer down at the people saying "DTMFA!!!!!!!!!!!" you'd see an awful lot of bad relationships going on.

Or people who've never had one with an actual real life person with flaws.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:37 PM on October 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


AskMe is riddled with cognitive biases. If you want my advice, don't use AskMe for anything but very specific questions, like the best tool for fixing a toilet or the name of that song with a certain lyric.
posted by stbalbach at 12:47 PM on October 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


Or people who've never had one with an actual real life person with flaws.

Or conversely, there are a number of us who got our shit together at some point to DTMFA and are much, much happier after moving on to much-less flawed partners. My life experience has been that I am happy I broke up with the women who were awful to me and found someone who was not. My life experience now is also that I can be a responsible, sensitive, caring, equally-invested member of a partnership, I know what that looks like, and I have no reason to encourage someone to stay in a relationship with someone who is not, especially when they are obviously hurting and unhappy.

I don't spend a huge amount of time in relationship AskMe's though, and am far from an authoritative voice, and of course it's not the universal answer to all relationship problems.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


Has there ever been a MetaTalk post that didn't lead with a question worded to imply that the OP's complaint is valid and broadly held?
posted by mullacc at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Forty-two minutes! Forty-two minutes shy of 48 hours without a MeTa post!
posted by BeerFilter at 12:56 PM on October 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Do Treasure My Fraulein Always?
posted by adipocere at 12:57 PM on October 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's Douglas Adams' world, BeerFilter. We just live in it.

happy 10/10/10, everyone.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 1:11 PM on October 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Relationship trolls.
posted by bad grammar at 1:12 PM on October 10, 2010


Actually, I've observed that if people are married, then the overwhelming response is "try to make it work" and "go to counseling." But if they're in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, then it's usually "DTFMA" in the vein that there are a lot of men out there. My guess is that a lot of people consider non-marital relationships to be less "real" or "important" as marriage, which is unfortunate.

There are also a lot of stereotypes we work with when giving advice. If the boyfriend/girlfriend is suddenly losing his/her temper and acting mean, our concern isn't the boyfriend/girlfriend -- it's rightfully the poster's wellbeing. We want the poster to be safe and happy.

There's also an overwhelming, "don't get married if you have any doubts at all."

I don't know why. Western culture? I read a Tori Amos interview once where she said (not that she's a professional psychologist) women tend to want to fix relationships and men just detach when something isn't working and don't put in the energy. Which is probably not true, but it just popped into my head.

Also, I guess most women are encouraged to DTMFA because we're afraid that the poster is going to end up getting hurt or abused and is putting up with crap because of low self-confidence.

Or a bunch of assumptions. Basically, we're all just projecting out of our own experiences and beliefs, because we want to believe that our experiences are universal and we want the best for our Mefite friends.

Also, it's not like we're emailing back and forth and coming up with a consensus. They're individual opinions, and hopefully they reflect some diversity in experience. But I guess sometimes they don't.
posted by anniecat at 1:16 PM on October 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Correction: But if they're in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, then it's usually "DTFMA" in the vein that there are a lot of men*/women out there.
posted by anniecat at 1:17 PM on October 10, 2010


I love Tori Amos to death but I have a feeling that if she had an account here I'd be deleting a lot of her askme answers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:23 PM on October 10, 2010 [48 favorites]


All like [Several poems removed, the question is not "was there ever a cornflake girl", please skip the oblique metaphors and just answer the question.] and shit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on October 10, 2010 [53 favorites]


While I would hate to take Tori Amos' generalities about relationships, or about men and women, seriously, and although I've never liked her music at all, I do love that one lyric that goes something like: "you like her 'cause she thinks really deep thoughts?/better hope I bleed real soon, boy/how's that deep thought for you?"

That's how you fucking write a bitter fucking song!
posted by OmieWise at 1:25 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


In Soviet Russia, the Tori Amos love you.
posted by not_on_display at 1:44 PM on October 10, 2010


Some RelationshipFilter threads go a lot better than most.

Maybe, because some get watered with better whisky. Or, maybe, because some run freerer, and call in larger human experience. I suspect the results/responses to most RelationshipFilter threads are more matters of the respondent's unresolved issues than they are of dry reason over the Asked question(s), and third party, arms length experience. From what I've seen, RelationshipFilter questions often call small, sometimes embittered choirs, to sing loudly.
posted by paulsc at 1:45 PM on October 10, 2010


jenfullmoon: “So out of curiosity, I was wondering if there has ever been a thread on the green that anyone knows of where the overall response WASN'T to break up?”

I can't remember the last time "DTMFA" was the overwhelming response. Can you give some examples?

This is one case where it seems to me that the perception is very, very different from the reality. In truth, people hardly ever recommend breakups in ask. It's just that, when they do, it seems drastic. But it's not actually that common.

Maybe you're confusing us with Dan Savage's column.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on October 10, 2010


I love Tori Amos to death but I have a feeling that if she had an account here I'd be deleting a lot of her askme answers.

She was very popular when I was in college. I liked her songs and read a couple of her interviews, then I saw an interview with her on television once and I felt like maybe she was very slightly crazy, like Bjork crazy, like genius crazy. I don't know why. She's very intense and everything she talks about seems very complex and too hard for me to understand and I feel lost and sad whenever I listen to her. But she is a very talented musician. Though she makes me feel really depressed when I listen to her songs, so I put them out of rotation like a decade ago.

She did show up on PBS a few years ago and had a British accent, like Madonna.
posted by anniecat at 1:51 PM on October 10, 2010


From what I've seen, RelationshipFilter questions often call small, sometimes embittered choirs, to sing loudly.

Indeed. I explain it like this. "Everyone is on the internet for a reason. Sometimes that reason is because they've got a non-traditional relationship, or they keep weird hours, or they have a mobility/disability issue, or they're living someplace where they don't find like-minded people, or they're a little socially awkward, or they're an expat or..." I see it as value-neutral for the most part, but usually there's a reason people spend so much time in internet-land. For some people, that's because Something Bad happened to them and it's easier or more pleasant or less stressful for people to interact with other people via text than in real life.

So, for these people, AskMe can be an opportunity to help other people not have Something Bad happen to them, and sometimes it's a bit of a crusade. Or people who haven't gotten closure on what the Something Bad is in their lives, sort of relive it via other people's relationships with all the "this is IMPORTANT" emotion attached to it, even though it's someone else and it's somewhere else.

I know this all sounds sort of pathological when I'm saying it, but I guess I can see it in myself. If I see a young guy with a new family asking questions about maybe having a drinking problem, I sort of feel that it's my job to jump in and say "Oh gosh, please don't be my Dad, maybe my story can help..." and I think we see other people who have been in abusive or controlling relationships, or been raped, or really screwed up at work, or dated someone they know they shouldn't, or whatever it is. The site can be a mirror for people. So for everyone who has left a bad relationship [and most of us have left more relationships than we've stayed in, mathematically] and who is doing okay now, and who sees someone else in a similar situation, DTMFA seems like the obvious choice. I see it as a lot more of a "try again" suggestion than a "go hurt someone else by breaking up with them" but I have my own issues to work on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:54 PM on October 10, 2010 [26 favorites]


I do love that one lyric that goes something like: "you like her 'cause she thinks really deep thoughts?/better hope I bleed real soon, boy/how's that deep thought for you?"

There was a another line great line off that album, something along the lines of "So you think you're Jesus 'cause you make me come?" Great popping of someone's ballon.
posted by nomadicink at 1:55 PM on October 10, 2010


...then I saw an interview with her on television once and I felt like maybe she was very slightly crazy, like Bjork crazy, like genius crazy.

I remember thinking this about her at some point: "Holy shit, it's an alien creature and it's going to kill us all one day and we'll never understand the reason why even though she's telling us."
posted by nomadicink at 1:58 PM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Everyone is on the internet for a reason. Sometimes that reason is because they've got a non-traditional relationship, or they keep weird hours, or they have a mobility/disability issue, or they're living someplace where they don't find like-minded people, or they're a little socially awkward, or they're an expat or..."

Back in, say, 1997, that might have been true, but these days 'the reason' people are on the internet is the same reason people watch televison: because it's what people do. A fairly large segment of the online population can barely remember life without it, It's not a secret world anymore.
posted by jonmc at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


"... A fairly large segment of the online population can barely remember life without it, It's not a secret world anymore."
posted by jonmc at 2:29 PM on October 10

So true. Now, it's like 1,966,514,816 semi-secret worlds, and growing every day...
posted by paulsc at 2:38 PM on October 10, 2010


There are lots of relationship-related questions on AskMe which have answers that don't have anything to do with dumping. Questions like "where's a good place to live in X area?" and "how do I make this commute less soul-sucking?" and "my SO really loves X, where can I get the coolest X ever?" Because people in good or even okayish relationships don't post here to ask if they should break up.

A lot of the "break up?" questions seem to come from people who can't see the forest for the trees anymore (or ever, when inexperience is at play) - that's a legitimate problem under stress, just losing all perspective about what's okay. A lot of the answerers might very well be in good relationships now, but have wandered around the very same woods in the past. It's a valuable bit of advice when you've lost perspective, and I honestly don't see people giving that answer just to be assholes. It's just...you know, life's too short to be tormented by a situation that you can choose to be in or not.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:53 PM on October 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think most of us have been in a relationship that we really needed to get out of, but we were too close to the problem to see the obvious. Later, we regret that we didn't DTMFA ourselves sooner, so we're really quick to give that advice to someone else.

I heard a radio interview with Tori Amos once but didn't catch who I was listening to first. I had no clue who I was listening to. She was especially fascinating for that.
posted by zinfandel at 3:07 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sure seems like "if you have to ask, the answer is to break up" is the golden rule. (Or at least, if your problem is bad enough to write a couple of pages on to strangers, it's probably bad enough to break up over.)

This seems like an excellent rule to me. I mean, it isn't like anyone who DTMFA after getting the okay from a bunch of strangers on the Internet wasn't going to DTMFA anyway. Relationship filter just gives people permission to do what they wanted to do already--Think back to the rare, unanimous DTMFA advice to the guy about to marry his abusive partner. He thought there'd be mixed reactions, but even when there weren't, he stuck with her.
posted by Marty Marx at 3:09 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tori Amos is incredibly compelling live, I mean, assuming you like her music. Takes over a piano in a wholly different but entirely analogous way as Jerry Lee Lewis. Saw her at the theater at UVa in Charlottesville in 1991 (or '92 maybe?) at UVa and she was amazing.

But generally, my pop idols have been poor sources of relationship advice for me. AskMe, OTOH, has given me some interesting and very different perspectives on relationships.
posted by artlung at 3:15 PM on October 10, 2010


Also, I guess most women are encouraged to DTMFA because we're afraid that the poster is going to end up getting hurt or abused and is putting up with crap because of low self-confidence.
Of course, these things only happen to women ...
posted by dg at 3:26 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


[on preview, zinfandel]

Well, if I read a relationship question, and I think I see someone heading down the dreary shit line, and I remember how I myself very much too late realized how my first marriage didn't work at all, I do as well have to restrain the knee-jerk reaction of "don't let this person make the same mistake", and sometimes I can't. I don't use those letters, though.

There's a similar thing going on with those people who once perhaps ate some cold chicken that had been having a prolonged private party of its own way back inside the fridge, and lived to tell the story. Naturally they try to help that generic asker about the bit of tofu that's been out on the counter for 15 minutes, and write "oooh, pitch it all, don't take the risk". (In this case there are always also the ones who will write "I'd eat it", no matter what the question is about [remember the poster who wanted to make use of some cheap half-drunk booze from his neighbor's trash heap?], and you never know whether they are joking or not. Relationship filter is usually a little more easy to interpret)

We always project. If we do this in a controlled fashion, it can still be really helpful, and that's why I think AskMefi works so fantastically well all the time. Sometimes some answers may be a little predictable, but still.
posted by Namlit at 3:31 PM on October 10, 2010


AskMe is riddled with cognitive biases. If you want my advice, don't use AskMe for anything but very specific questions, like the best tool for fixing a toilet or the name of that song with a certain lyric.

Better solution: Ask whatever you want to ask, but be skeptical of the advice and apply your own reasoning because you're aware of the cognitive biases.

Also, do not ask for the name of that song with a certain lyric. JFGI.
posted by John Cohen at 3:55 PM on October 10, 2010


"... If we do this in a controlled fashion, ..."
posted by Namlit at 6:31 PM on October 10

Sorry if I seem to be picking a minor point of your comment, by this response, but...

The moderation of AskMe isn't, as I understand it, to "control" RelationshipFilter responses for accuracy, relevancy, suitability, or any metric other than public profanity, or simple illegality. I.e. you can't advise Askers not to marry people of other races, without an expectation of other site users or moderator intervention. You can't advise people to DTMFA simply on the basis of the MFA being a male or female, in most cases, regardless of your personal history. Beyond such obvious cultural and legal barriers, the mods here tend to sit back, and wait for such wisdom to appear in RelationshipFilter threads as may well, or not.

Like it or not, as many of us do/do not at certain times in our membership history, the civility of this site that your comment seems to hope for, depends, like it or not, on the humanity, and simple patience and resolve of the moderation to defer to the experience of the membership in any given thread, as it may to declared principles and standards.
posted by paulsc at 4:02 PM on October 10, 2010


I can't remember the last time "DTMFA" was the overwhelming response. Can you give some examples?

Does-one-or-both-of-us-need-therapy-or-is-it-time-to-DTMFA
posted by zarah at 4:03 PM on October 10, 2010


Of course there is. What was the point of this question?
posted by Falconetti at 4:19 PM on October 10, 2010


wtf metafilter
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:33 PM on October 10, 2010


Are you asking whether there has ever been a relationship thread where the responses weren't overwhelmingly "DTMFA," or are you asking whether there has ever been a post asking whether to break up a relationship where the answer weren't overwhelmingly "DTMFA"? Not all relationship questions are asking whether to breakup.

You could look through the relationship tag and see.
posted by John Cohen at 4:40 PM on October 10, 2010


Like it or not, as many of us do/do not at certain times in our membership history, the civility of this site that your comment seems to hope for, depends, like it or not, on the humanity, and simple patience and resolve of the moderation to defer to the experience of the membership in any given thread, as it may to declared principles and standards.

Well, I believe that that civility is an individual thing to achieve (or if you will, hope for), so I was talking about the individual's (my, in my case) control, or moderation. One may have days where one succeeds better with that than other days, but that's beside the point. [But I seem to agree with you, right? Everyone's behaving responsible, the mods stand back and let the discussion unfold, and the result is a civil site.]

Anyway, the point I was making was, re-phrased, that although people (contributors) always face some risk of projecting their own stories into their answers, they can still create hugely helpful posts, if they act in awareness of that risk (one could also say: don't take themselves too terribly serious all the time).

I was not at all talking about the task of the mods, or how they handle it, or whether I like it or not how they handle it. I shouldn't have used that silly pseudo-scholarly "we", my excuses.
posted by Namlit at 4:44 PM on October 10, 2010


Of course, these things only happen to women ...

Yeah, that's exactly what I said, Miss Cleo.
posted by anniecat at 4:55 PM on October 10, 2010


I can't remember the last time "DTMFA" was the overwhelming response. Can you give some examples?

Don't Try Marrying Former Amours.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:06 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


AskMe is riddled with cognitive biases. If you want my advice, don't use AskMe for anything but very specific questions...

Once you've been reading AskMe for a while, what biases there are become apparent pretty quickly. Hyperbole is just as visible there as in any other Answers site; it's just as easy to hear axes grinding behind the scenes as it is reading IMDB reviews.

Outside of Plato's head, I don't think you'll find any absolute truths in Answers forums - everyone has biases. (Inside Plato's head it's too dark to read.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:07 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it were the case that the answers to RelationshipFilter questions tend towards DTMFA, that would not necessarily be indicative of anything unusual or wrong with AskMeFi. Remember, there's a significant selection bias at play here. When someone asks a RelationshipFilter question, the relationship is necessarily having problems of some kind. Not only that, but the problems are bad enough that someone is willing to ask (relative) strangers about it in a public forum. That does not bode well for the health of the relationship.

I think another factor is the limited format, especially for anonymous questions. Even when the asker provides answers to requests for more information it's still ultimately one-sided and text-based. A lot of people, when faced with limited information, tend to give a conservative response. When dealing with a screwed up relationship, ending it can be the conservative, risk-averse answer (as opposed to, say, risking staying in a potentially abusive relationship or marrying someone that you may well divorce a few months later).

It was observed above that answers seem to be different for RelationshipFilter involving married couples. I think there the calculus changes. Divorce is expensive and messy. There are more likely to be kids involved. The relationships tend to have been going on longer. All things being equal, marriages and non-marriage relationships shouldn't be treated differently, but things are most definitely not equal. The reality of divorce is always a factor, and there may be other complications, as I mentioned. In those cases, the conservative, risk-averse answer may well be therapy and counseling rather than divorce.

Given all this, I don't think we can conclude from the frequency of DTMFA answers that AskMeFi is 'bad' at RelationshipFilter. It could well be that some alternative 'gold standard' advice-giving body (I dunno, a panel of therapists or something) would reach the same conclusions that AskMeFi tends to.
posted by jedicus at 5:19 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here are some things metafilter thinks:

1) you are an alcoholic
2) you should dump that asshole you're dating
3) money should never be the motivating factor when you get a job
4) you paid too much for your house/wedding/car/vacation/wardrobe

I love you guys! Never change!
posted by mckenney at 5:34 PM on October 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


People in healthy relationships don't ask the internet if they should break up. It's selection bias.
posted by chairface at 5:35 PM on October 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


Here are some things metafilter thinks:

You should exercise, especially running.

You should eat your food that you think might have gone bad.

You should believe what people tell you about themselves.

You should either try online dating or never do online dating.

You should ask your crush on a date and call it a "date" but don't have it be a real date.

You should read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and A People's History of the United States if you're interested in history.

You should read Feeling Good by David Burns if you're depressed.

You should follow all the rules in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.

You should follow none of the rules in Strunk & White's The Elements of Style.

You should get a lawyer and/or therapist for this.

You should not try to affect other people's behavior.
posted by John Cohen at 5:56 PM on October 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Here are some more things metafilter thinks:

You should wear red socks during a job interview.

You should clean your eyeglasses with Windex without removing them first.

You should ask a police officer for his badge number before discussing the details of your minor moving violation.

You should give your father-in-law a bottle of cheap tequila during your first meeting.

You should invest all your money in government bonds issued by very small countries.

You should call your doctor "Steve."

You should send a thank you letter to Colgate whenever you brush your teeth.

You should name your children and all your pets "Fishface."
posted by mullacc at 6:26 PM on October 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


You should ask a police officer for his badge number before discussing the details of your minor moving violation.

Well by far the advice about moving violations is along the lines of "STFU and pay your ticket." instead of "go see an attorney."

And you guys forgot:

Hi I scraped my knee, it's really minor. No blood. Actually it's mostly just red. Will I be alright?

Get thee to a hospital!
posted by P.o.B. at 6:42 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here are some things metatalk thinks:

1) You. Yes, you – the one trying to reduce all of us to a glib list of frequently-given answers. You're being a douchebag. Don't.
posted by koeselitz at 6:48 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


You. The one telling me what to say. Don't.
posted by John Cohen at 6:52 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, John. That was pointed straight at mckenney.
posted by koeselitz at 7:07 PM on October 10, 2010


i know you are but what am i?!
posted by nadawi at 7:21 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here are some things metafilter thinks:

Sleep hygeine makes many things in your life better.
Dale Carnegie had some good points even if his book is dated and somewhat glib.
There is probably a nurse line phone number on the back of your insurance card. Call that before you go to the ER.
Talking to people can sometimes help with the problems you are having with them.
It's a good idea to be clear if you "like" like someone if it's causing you stess not knowing if they like you back.
Cats are just like that, no one knows why.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:57 PM on October 10, 2010 [30 favorites]


DTMFA

Similarly; is FTSOA also a recurring advice for the coy 'does (s)he like me?' crowd?
posted by joost de vries at 8:12 PM on October 10, 2010


Heh. I started to wonder about this question when I thought, "I can't remember any threads that didn't seem to be at least 60% "dump him" when someone asked about whether or not to break up." Interesting answers here... though I am kind of going, "where did the Tori Amos come from?" I suspected it was something like what chairface and jedicus said: selection bias, but wondered if anyone could think of some that didn't go that way.

I didn't mean to imply that we're all just a bunch of "Dump him!" folks, necessarily. It always seemed to me that there's good reasons for breaking up with someone if it's bad enough to ask strangers about. I just wondered if exceptions ever happened.

Er... I guess not?

Well, thanks for answering, y'all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:21 PM on October 10, 2010


DTMFA = Ditch That Motherfucking Tori Amos
posted by unSane at 8:27 PM on October 10, 2010


I mean Ditch Tori Motherfucking Amos, obviously

I'll get my coat

posted by unSane at 8:28 PM on October 10, 2010


How bad a person am I for thinking that most of the people in this thread were pretty much write-offs based on their like for Tori Amos?*

* Turns out I'm the write-off as I was picturing Tori Spelling the entire time.
posted by maxwelton at 12:15 AM on October 11, 2010


The spelling is very similar
posted by Catfry at 12:34 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You should eat your food that you think might have gone bad.

If your going to include this, you really should give equal time to:

In order to be safe, all food must be frozen all the time. Food that has thawed, even as part of its preparation, contains botulism and may kill you.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:29 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, do not ask for the name of that song with a certain lyric. JFGI.

But it turns out I was remembring the lyric incorrectly. Fortunately, people are good at figuring that out!
posted by Greg Nog at 5:25 AM on October 11, 2010


If I found out that someone broke up with me based on what a bunch of *poopsocking nerds wrote on a web site, I'd find the servers and burn them to the ground.

* a group of which I am a member. You know I mean that in the most loving manner.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:36 AM on October 11, 2010


Cats are just like that, no one knows why.

I know why. But I'm not allowed to talk about it.

They won't let me. All I can reveal is the Schedule; "Go to the work, get the money, buy the food, bring it home, make with the food, make with the scratchies, make with the sleeping so we can contort you by claw and cuddle, wake up, ask no questions about the device, go to the work..."

We are merely pawns in their grand catly plans.
posted by quin at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Cats are just like that, no one knows why.

That answers half of my questions right there. :)
posted by patheral at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2010


I don't care what Metafilter thinks; *I* think you should call your doctor "Nick."
posted by galadriel at 11:40 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given: An OP describes situation with SO.

1) If OP seems to be creating problem, Get Therapy. (GT)
2) If OP and SO both seem responsible for creating problem, both should GT.
3) If SO is creating problem, but is amenable to change, OP should tell SO to GT.
4) If SO is creating problem but will not GT, OP should DTMFA.

The rest is a matter of distinguishing (by Internet!) whether a situation is of cases 1, 2, 3, or 4.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:12 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


As your attorney, I advise you not to worry.

Take a hit out of that little brown bottle in my shaving kit.
posted by not_on_display at 3:33 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


IMO, the overriding theme on AskMe relationship threads is zero tolerance for mistakes, either from the asker or the SO. It suggests that a lot of people made their own mistakes in relationship, and now they’ve changed their situations, broken up with the bad guy/girl, and “moved on” etc. But they haven’t really moved on, they’re still haunted by the shame and guilt for allowing themselves to be in that bad situation, so they have a compulsion to repeat. They displace their past traumas on to other’s relationship problems, hoping that if they could prevent this girl or guy from making the same mistake, the original will somehow be wiped away. Basically they act like Lady Macbeth – DTMFA could be read as “Out, damn’d spot!”
posted by AlsoMike at 4:45 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


There have been a few nearly-unanimous AskMes lately and that's actually more unusual than recent history would indicate.

It seems like there's been quite a lot of these lately, but I think the widespread DTMFA sentiment is unfortunate in a lot of cases, and is more widespread and not always helpful. I wonder about a lot of these types of questions, long after the fact. Did the asker try to work things out and get burned eventually? Did they split up and regret it? The statute of limitations for updates limits long-term resolution updates, but I'm sure some of these things pan out in interesting ways.

For example, a few years ago I asked a contentious relationship-filter question about my boyfriend going to Europe with his ex-girlfriend. I updated when he got back that no, he hadn't cheated on me, and she'd ended up bringing another guy (another platonic male friend, as it turned out). A longer-term update would show that flabdablet's advice was spot on, and I'm lucky to have him. He didn't cheat, he's completely trustworthy and a wonderful partner, and I'm glad he had a chance to prove that to me early in our relationship. We got married a few months ago, but If I'd taken the widespread advice to pre-emptively DTMFA there, that wouldn't have happened.

On the other hand, I was also the author of this trainwreck of an anonymous AskMe. I went to couples counseling with that guy for months after asking that question, and didn't get up the nerve to DTMFA for months after that. Although in that case, most respondents thought I was the MF, which is probably a fair-enough assessment. I learned a lot from that relationship, but also ended up with more baggage than an oceanliner. His eating disorder turned out to only be the tip of the iceberg, and while I may have been able to support him through that, I couldn't handle the trolling Craig's List, picking up girls to lie to on the side, and chronic months-long email correspondence he'd kept up with other girls from CL, myspace, dating sites, etc., telling them his live-in girlfriend was his "roommate". The guy was (is) a sociopath, and when I see relationship-filter questions with some of the warning signs I ignored in that relationship, I have a hard time not biting my tongue and trying to warn people off... especially since I now know from experience that not all relationships have to be like that.
posted by booknerd at 11:54 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


DTMFA?

Thought that was a good solution.*
posted by salvia at 5:38 PM on October 12, 2010


it's easy to tell anonymous internet people to leave their relationships

This is true, but that doesn't necessarily mean the advice is wrong. I know I've been in situations where my friends were dating people that I thought they shouldn't, but I held my tongue, because--well, what are you going to say? In the case of AskMe, there's pseudonymity and the person if asking for your advice, so you say it.
posted by !Jim at 12:21 AM on October 13, 2010


I'd be interested in seeing responses about AskMes in which the majority of answers were wrong, or at least predicted an outcome other than what happened. I can think of a couple relationship AskMes I've posted. In the first, I didn't follow the majority advice to the letter, but I found it thought-provoking and, in hindsight, I recognize it absolutely was the best advice. The other time I did take it to heart and decided to do what was encouraged by most, and it was a good decision.

Where relationships are concerned, there's one thing I've found very helpful to remember, advice from a former therapist: "All relationships fail, except, maybe, the last one." I think it's pretty rare that AskMe is the single deciding factor that causes someone to initiate a breakup. If you're here asking, things are bumpy. If you get advice that helps you solve it, you solve it, and either continue happily or break up over something else down the road. If you get bad advice that is totally useless and your instincts tell you to do otherwise, you do otherwise, and either continue happily or break up over something else down the road. What's helpful about the advice is not that it has some power to make people act in a way they don't want to act. It's a range of opinions that give you both a sense of the possible ways of viewing your problem, and when some opinion is widely shared, it gives a pretty useful barometer of what the majority view is (at least with the limited information they work from). The OP can do with that as they will.
posted by Miko at 7:16 AM on October 13, 2010


The OP can do with that as they will.

Indeed. The major challenge that we have is trying to keep advice to the advice level and not to the "holy war over topic X" level. For some reason when an AskMe has a few comments, people mostly reply normally. When an AskMe has 50 comments and they mostly agree, further answers can take on a really shrill, strident or eye-rolling tone which increases the liklihood of people getting angry and turning the thread into a fight as opposed to a list of suggestions. So we see this

1. I think you should do this.
2. I'm SHOCKED that anyone would suggest THAT.
1. Well I'm pissed that you're shocked blalabla...

I've often wished that we could have more of a posting filter, a la gmail. You know how if you include the words "is attached" in your email but don't send an attachment you'll get a friendly reminder "hey did you mean to include an attachment?" I've always thought we should have some in AskMe

- "You seem to be using ALLCAPS, are you aware that people tend to view that as shouting and if you feel like hollering about this, it may not be a great time for you to post a comment. There's no need to yell."
- "You used the phrase "shocked" "stunned" "flabbergasted" or "incredulous" in your comment. Do you have a problem believing that other people can sincerely hold beliefs that do not agree with yours? Can you maybe tone it down some?"
- "Please spell out DTMFA and include some context for your answer."
- "Here is the FAQ entry on how to make a hyperlink, please consult it. If you are posting from your phone, please wait until you can get to a device where you can copy and paste"

That sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:31 AM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


- "Please spell out DTMFA and include some context for your answer."

That seems like a really, really helpful simple and direct suggestion. If the norm became that the community looks down on this flip shorthand, the comments might have some more substance. Pledging to stop using DTMFA as a piece of advice now.
posted by Miko at 9:00 AM on October 13, 2010


We will seriously delete answers that just say DTMFA if we see them, and answers that are like "can't look it up right now, on my phone, but google this word..." Maybe I should add an entry to the FAQ.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 AM on October 13, 2010


Other non-helpful phrases

- Therapy NOW
- Lawyer STAT
- Why are you still reading this, go to the ER!!!!!
- You should break up with them to save them from having to go out with YOU anymore.
- Anyone who thinks that is an idiot.
- Oh she's a GIRL, you are trying to date a 14 year old in your office? [and other general grammar/language policing]
- "I'm trying to say this as politely as possible but what the fuck is wrong with you" [or variants thereof]

Which is not to say that the general ideas contained in those messages are not possibly helpful, but that I think we have an obligation to be decent to each other and to give answers that assist the OP and not just the commenter's desire to be useful and/or avert a disaster.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:23 AM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you get bad advice that is totally useless and your instincts tell you to do otherwise, you do otherwise...
I think this is an important point. Sometimes (often?), the best thing about advice is that it helps clarify your own thoughts, even though the advice itself may be wrong. When someone tells you 'you should do x' and your reaction is 'no way, that's really bad advice, what I should do is y', the advice has helped you because you were unable to arrive at y until you got the advice that contrasted with the instinct that you refused to listen to previously. Kind of like flipping a coin to make a decision - if your instinct tells you that the choice for heads is wrong, flipping the coin has still helped you make the right decision.
posted by dg at 2:22 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


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