DTDTMFA February 8, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Dear Metafilter, No, the answer to every relationship question is not DTMFA.

Why is it that seemingly every single AskMe in which there is any difficulty with a partner -- be it a spouse who has been secretly banging transgender hookers for a decade or a FWB who occasionally snores -- is met with a volley of answers advising the asker to get out of this poisonous/doomed relationship? It is of course merited sometimes, but it astonished me with the question in the FPP wherein two seemingly happy people are about to be separated by circumstance for a few months and are looking for guidance. (I picked this one as a recent example, but it is an ongoing phenomenon.)

One of the least appealing things about this site is that it seems that when one of our own (especially one of our own who asks anonymously) is suffering heartache, a chorus rings out urging our troubled friends to treat people as disposable.

I am currently in what is surely the happiest, most comfortable, most stable romantic relationship of my life. But if it were heading for the shoals, I would be loath to write an AskMe about it because I am certain that most of the answers would be predictable, no matter what the nuances or extenuating circumstances of the situation were or how carefully I explained them. Years ago I did write an anonymous relationship question and was appalled at the vast trains of baggage that people brought to their answers. As I said once before on the site, it was the equivalent of me saying I had come into some money through inheritance and was asking for investment advice and having an early reply mysteriously deduce that I was lying and I must have come into this money by armed robbery, so every response after that was people urging me to turn myself in and expressing their wishes that I suffer years of prison rape.

I am continually amazed and disappointed that so many bright people who have such incisive thoughts about politics, culture and art seem to see every knotty relationship as being of the Gordian variety.

Look, nothing ends until it ends badly. This does not mean we have to tell people to end everything, end it badly and do so as quickly as they can.
posted by ricochet biscuit to Etiquette/Policy at 8:44 AM (122 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, great, I thought my day didn't have enough mentions of rape in it yet.

The person in the question you linked to specifically asked if they should break things off. I don't see why it is bad that multiple people gave thoughtful answers that disagreed with your (also thoughtful and appropriate) answer.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:47 AM on February 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


You wouldn't have written this unless you knew inside you have to DTMFA. Trust yourself.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2012 [44 favorites]


It seems to me that people more frequently suggest couples therapy than any other answer and that is pretty much the opposite of DTMFA. Part of the problem is often people who write relationshipfilter questions already know that they should DTMFA already and they don't reach the point where they post the question until it has already gone horribly awry. In the specific question you linked to, I thought there were a wide variety of thoughtful responses that ran the gamut.
posted by Lame_username at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


You picked a poor example. Lots of people are saying things like:

Good relationships are harder to come by than you think and I don't think you should be breaking up just because you're young. But if you genuinely feel like it would be the right thing to do for both of you then I don't think you should just stay together for the sake of staying together.

But you do sound like you're in love. That's a different kind of relationship. Not really one worth throwing away for the sake of a little bit of time.


which is the opposite of DTMFA.

In fact, the phrase 'DTMFA' was used zero (0) times.

Could you perhaps link to another post that is more along the lines of your concern?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:50 AM on February 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

Now seriously, this is where it shows you know too little to be giving advice.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:51 AM on February 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


Dump The MeFite Already?
posted by ODiV at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2012


The question is "Should we break up?" In that context an answer of "Yes." is a totally appropriate and acceptable answer. I feel that some people prioritize their relationships higher in their lives than other people do. For people who prioritize relationships highly, it can seem weird for other people to be so cavalier about them. For people for whom relationships are not as integral to their day to day lives, suffering through some of the things people claim to be suffering through seems almost unimaginable.

I know people find relationship questions and answers difficult especially when they are about their own circumstances but I find your rape metaphor a little over the top. We do not do that here, period. I'm sorry if it felt that way to you but part of being able to manage getting answers from random internet people is being able to calibrate your own expectations and yes, deciding not to use AskMe if that doesn't work for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


DTMFA means dump the mother fucker already? I thought it meant "Don't Trust MetaFilter's Advice."
posted by Apoch at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2012 [92 favorites]


Isn't FIAMO basically just DTMFA but for posts?
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:56 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes yes, we are a little quick to dismiss a person's problem and tell them to DTMFA instead of offering suggestions for compromise. But many, many other times the advice we're giving is "people don't change, and if you absolutely can't/won't deal with this person's issues, then we have nothing else to suggest except don't be with that person anymore."
posted by Melismata at 8:58 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that MeFi's default "DTMFA" response is due to the fact that a lot of the time (maybe even the majority of the time), people polling the internet for relationship help already know that they want to break up, but they want justification from others before they do it. In that sense, the "DTMFA" responses are helping the OP to do what he/she knows must be done.

But I think you're right that it (unintentionally) results in genuine relationship dilemmas that aren't necessarily cause for breakup being viewed as "just another MeFi relationship post, and we all know how this one ends."

... That being said, I don't think the post you linked to is the right example of an OP receiving "DTMFA" responses without considering the unique circumstances of the OP's relationship. It happens, absolutely, but I wouldn't use that post as an example. And I worry that the issue might not be given the attention it deserves because it's not the right example.
posted by hypotheticole at 8:58 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I apologize if the prison rape metaphor offended. That was not my intent.

And yes, the specific phrase DTMFA does not occur in the answers to the question I linked. I am not trying to call out anyone specifically, but there are a disappointing number of negative, cut-all-links responses to wehat seemed to me a pretty minor bump in the road for a relationship. But DTMFA encapsulates the glib, dismissive approach I see in too many relationship questions' answers, wherein the answerers' conjectures are placed above the OP's statements.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:00 AM on February 8, 2012


I'm seeing way more "Give it a shot!" answers than DMTFA answers in the askme. This meTa is confusing.
posted by rtha at 9:01 AM on February 8, 2012


You presume DTMFA is glib and dismissive. But that is your presumption.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:04 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


IMO, many people don't even recognize that breaking up actually is a valid option. A steady diet of Hollywood and cultural messages has instilled a sense that there's always a means of fixing, healing and reconciling, if only one finds the right words.

Not always.

So, when you see "dump that fucker," it's jarring just to see the idea even being raised in the first place.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:05 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you ask a thousand people for relationship advice, doesn't it make sense to you that at least some of them will say, "I think you should end it."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You presume DTMFA is glib and dismissive. But that is your presumption.

Please explain how it is not, for my greater understanding.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2012


Also, just to be clear, we do delete most answers where all people say is DTMFA because unless the question is "Should I dump this motherfucker already?" it's not useful. That said, a lot of relationship questions often have an "Anything else you'd like to tell me?" aspect to them that opens the door for a lot more in the way of opining than we'd otherwise allow. People who are looking for a more tailored set of answers would be well-served by asking a fairly narrow question or set of questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of the Ask.Me questions I see are from people who are in a relatively new relationship that's having some kind of significant trouble. If you've only been going out for a few weeks or a few months and you're already running into major issues, your relationship is going to be a nightmare by the time you've been married for 5 years.

People are conditioned to believe that relationships are hard and take work and blah, blah, blah. And that's true, yes, over time. But if they're hard out of the gate, there's some basic incompatibility issues that probably aren't worth trying to resolve.

That's my bias, of course, and other people might try to save those budding relationships, but my feeling is that they're doomed anyway, so it's better to cut ties now and move on to someone who might actually fit.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:07 AM on February 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think we should change Metafilter's default DTMFA answer on relationship questions to ETMFA.

Perhaps with a side of fava beans and a nice chianti?
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I agree with jessamyn in that I think there is a big gulf between different kinds of people on this general issue. There's an OKC question about breaking-up or trying to work things out, and while I answered the latter, the vast majority of people who match closely with me answer the former. So, partly, I think there's something going on with larger cultural divides, too, where my peers, which certainly is more likely to include mefites than not, are more likely to DTMF than not. Sticking together when things are going badly and one is unhappy is associated with conservative cultural values, I think.

So for those of us who are progressive but favor staying together, in general, are probably a minority among our peers.

And, too, there's trust issues and stuff involved in this. For those of us on this side of the divide, hearing a lot of DTMF is upsetting.

But the things said in previous comments are very true. It's often the case that people look for relationship advice as a way of getting validation and encouragement to end a relationship when they don't quite have the courage to do it without support. In fact, it may be that it's the people who are less likely to break-up early, and more likely to stick to it longer than they ought to, who end up asking such questions to AskMe, thus skewing the sample.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


jacquilynne: "A lot of the Ask.Me questions I see are from people who are in a relatively new relationship that's having some kind of significant trouble. If you've only been going out for a few weeks or a few months and you're already running into major issues, your relationship is going to be a nightmare by the time you've been married for 5 years. "

However, that doesn't really apply to this particular question, yes? Being fearful about switching to a long-distance relationship for seven months doesn't strike me as a major incompatibility issue.
posted by zarq at 9:17 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"People are conditioned to believe that relationships are hard and take work and blah, blah, blah. And that's true, yes, over time."

See, I find that interesting because I think the opposite: that people are conditioned to think that the "right" relationship comes easily and so any problems indicate that they should DTMF and try again for Mr/Ms Right.

I'm not sure how childhood experience with parents factors into this. My parents stayed together until long after I'd grown up and moved away, and their divorce was long, long overdue. On the other hand, I just really don't have any illusions that it's easy to live with someone or that, sooner or later, you're likely to spend some periods of time not being in love with them. I don't really think that romantic love, as we understand it as a modern concept, is something that can be maintained between two people over decades. Some people, yes. Most people, no. But then, I don't think that experiencing that blissful true love is the main point of long-term exclusive pair-bonding, either.

All this is to say, I think that people have pretty radically diverse expectations and ideas about what romantic relationships are truly about.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:19 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The OP of this thread indicated he thought this was an ongoing problem with Ask.Me, and I was responding to that point. I didn't read the one example he linked, since he didn't seem all that focused on that one thread.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:19 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I work and volunteer with prisoners. I was offended by the prison rape metaphor.

What was your intent if not to offend?

Your apology is very weak, and your priorities are frankly messed up if you're more outraged by internet advice to DTMFA than the usage of "prison rape" for shock value or other purposes.
posted by vincele at 9:20 AM on February 8, 2012 [18 favorites]


Jacquilynne, ok. :)
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2012


2bucksplus: "Isn't FIAMO basically just DTMFA but for posts?"

No, you're thinking of DIAF.
posted by Splunge at 9:22 AM on February 8, 2012


Your apology is very weak, and your priorities are frankly messed up

I would be happy for a mod a to change to "and wish me years of suffering in prison." Still: this is not the issue I am raising.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:23 AM on February 8, 2012


In that thread as of right now, I count 15 KTMFAs to 7 DTMFAs, and 4 IDKWYSDWTMFAs (a category in which I include the many-favorited sanderman response). Indeed, it almost seems like in this particular post in question you're not only slamming those Answerers who suggest it, but are tarring the Asker with that same brush, since she--gasp--is seriously considering breaking up with her BF over these certain non-insurmountable roadblocks.

Also, one person's "vast trains of baggage" is another person's "voice of experience." How does one, in fact, make an insightful or helpful response to a relationship Ask except by reference to one's experience/"baggage"?
posted by drlith at 9:24 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit, I don't see the point of this MeTa thread. I also dislike the trend of reflexive "DTMFA" answers to every relationship question. I've also asked dating/relationship questions (under a different username) where I considered starting a MeTa about how skewed the responses were, in ways I won't bother to go into here. But criticizing other people's answers while doing a shout-out link to your own answer is rather self-congratulatory, don't you think? I mean, it goes without saying that you agree with your own answer. There might be a good thread to be had about the prevalence of "DTMFA," but it probably wouldn't start with the OP linking to their own answer and gratuitously referring to transgendered prostitutes and prison rape, as if you were just randomly trying to push people's buttons.
posted by John Cohen at 9:26 AM on February 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Actually, that was inadvertent: I meant to link to the question. Mea culpa.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:28 AM on February 8, 2012


Ivan Fyodorovich: "I'm not sure how childhood experience with parents factors into this."

There have been studies done.

When I was in college, one of my sociology professors asked a class I was in to raise their hands if they felt it was better to leave a relationship with serious problems (he gave examples) than to remain and try resolving them.

There were about 300 people in the class. About half of them raised their hands. He then asked the entire class to raise our hands if our parents were divorced. Nearly everyone who had their hands raised kept them up.

The theory is that children who are raised in an environment where they perceive relationships as transitory will maintain that perspective as adults. Everyone's mileage probably varies.
posted by zarq at 9:29 AM on February 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


I don't mind seeing a "DTMFA" answer as long as it is followed by "And here's why..."
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:33 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dude, you ask a bunch of amateurs, you get a bunch of amateur responses.

What do you expect.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:33 AM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Please explain how it is not, for my greater understanding

Until other people adopted it, I only ever heard it used by Dan Savage in cases where someone is asking a question with a really, really clear answer. Like, if someone asks, "My boyfriend cheats on me, this really hurts me a lot but he's told me that he only cheats because I'm too fat and stupid to want to have sex with and he's been clear that he won't stop cheating on me, how can we make this relationship work?" then the only answer is, in fact, "Dump the motherfucker already," and it is no more glib nor dismissive than answering "Four," when asked what is two plus two.

I agree that the specific abbreviation gets trotted out more than it needs to, and in situations where it doesn't apply.

To answer your broader question, we only have the information we're given. Most thorny relationship questions seem to elicit a mix of responses ranging from couples therapy to individual therapy to breaking up. I do understand that, especially if the situation is your own, it's probably the breakup suggestions that stick in your memory and color how you remember the thread. But it really does vary. The only time I can remember seeing an overwhelmingly unanimous response was the guy whose fiancee was throwing spectacular tantrums of increasing frequency and intensity and had recently threatened him with a knife.* And even then, a lot of the exhortations to GTFO were preceded by "If she doesn't go to therapy." So, I don't know. It's a crap shoot.

*I really wonder how that guy's doing, sometimes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:38 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I completely agree that this is an ongoing problem with AskMe. It's dismissive and often not constructive at alll. When questions asking for advice for how to approach solving a problem are met with "Don't. Run." it seems to me like the answerer is projecting their own fatalism onto the OP, as though their relationship is doomed to fail so they might as well give up now.

Sometimes that's appropriate--if the relationship seems clearly abusive and the OP seems oblivious to it--but oftentimes it's not. If everyone left a relationship at the first sign of serious hard work, no one would be paired up.

As someone who enjoys contributing to these questions, I find it frustrating to try and participate in a thread with an overwhelming tone of negativity. I make it a point of not answering a question unless I've read all the other answers, and I often find myself closing the thread before I reach the end because I don't want to keep reading dismissive and pessimistic answers.

That said, of course, many answers are not like that at all, and AskMe still yields far more insightful and kind answers than you would get anywhere else. However, we're not discussing the good answers right now.
posted by Phire at 9:45 AM on February 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


I apologize if the prison rape metaphor offended. That was not my intent.

No conditional needed. It did offend. And no one who answered that question in a way you didn't like intended to send you into a blind rage.
posted by liketitanic at 9:54 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


And no one who answered that question in a way you didn't like intended to send you into a blind rage.

Take it easy on blind people, please.
posted by phaedon at 9:58 AM on February 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


I have to say, that after a year and a half of hanging out pretty much entirely on human relations AskMe, my sense of things is that there's not really a problem with people running around breaking off their relationships at the slightest provocation. There is, on the other hand, a big problem with people accepting a lot of really shitty treatment from their partners, because they think they have some kind of responsibility to stay and fix things. Now, maybe I was a little dismissive on the question you linked to - I don't really think there's any reason for college juniors to put themselves through a long-distance relationship. But look here. This woman is miserable. And this woman is pretty clearly about to be cheated on. This woman's partner called her a bitch, a cow, and regularly told her to shut the fuck up. Actually, that last one is most important. Look at how hard it is for that woman to face the truth about her relationship. She says he "may" be abusive, and her "signs that he may be controlling" include breaking up with her for two days "to show me that unless I stop being a “b*tch” I am going to have to leave." And this upset her, but she's not sure how bad it is, because: "I keep thinking that (as he points out) I will never find better, yes he has a few flaws (talking down to me, etc.) but he IS working on them and he is in it for the long run. He wants to marry me and he says we have our whole lives to work on this, and that he will be there forever for me. "

These kinds of questions roll in to AskMe all the time, and they're heartbreaking. It's pretty clear to me that most people are wired to stay, not to leave, and that they are much more likely to seize on something that gives them permission to stay in a terrible situation. And that's not including the fact that most people don't want to be told to break up, and so hold back information that would tend to skew the results that way. Like this one - she doesn't tell us the really shitty stuff until the updates.

I'm not looking that hard to find these - all I'm doing is scrolling through my recent activity. What these people all have in common is that what they most need is a pep talk telling them that it's ok to leave an obviously toxic situation. I don't use the acronym myself, but there's a reason the "already" is in there.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:03 AM on February 8, 2012 [80 favorites]


If and when the internet stops going crazy over things like breading cats, then I'll raise the bar for AskMe relationship input.

Also, if you're going to take a poll, don't argue with the poll.
posted by phaedon at 10:07 AM on February 8, 2012


I am not trying to call out anyone specifically, but there are a disappointing number of negative, cut-all-links responses to wehat seemed to me a pretty minor bump in the road for a relationship.

We all don't have to think like you. If you think they should stay together, great! Please say so. Other people are not wrong for disagreeing with you, especially since there are numerous things in the question which point toward breaking up being a good decision.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:09 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

You are doing it wrong.
posted by headnsouth at 10:28 AM on February 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Dear Metafilter, no, the punchline to any hyperbole or metaphor is not rape.

It is never funny. It will never help you "get your point across." Also, we've all already heard the George Carlin thing, so you don't have to bring that up either.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:34 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe it's time to cut the cord and break up with Human Relations AskMes, ricochet. I've given it a lot of thought and I just don't think couples therapy would work for you.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:37 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

The correct line is, "Everything ends badly. Otherwise, it wouldn't end."

Which is a little more hopeful in that you can have something good that doesn't end.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:37 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one in the history of mankind has ever had a relationship which did not end one way or another.
posted by Justinian at 10:39 AM on February 8, 2012


Maybe it's time to cut the cord and break up with Human Relations AskMes, ricochet. I've given it a lot of thought and I just don't think couples therapy would work for you.

Eponystaytogether?
posted by phaedon at 10:40 AM on February 8, 2012


No one in the history of mankind has ever had a relationship which did not end one way or another.

As I have said before: every marriage ends in death or divorce. Quite possibly life gets better post-divorce, but the marriage itself ends badly.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:47 AM on February 8, 2012


but the marriage itself ends badly.

I get that this is your personal experience, but I'm not sure if you're just defining a marriage that ends as a marriage that ends badly? I had a marriage that ended just fine, by my account.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:48 AM on February 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


I get that this is your personal experience, but I'm not sure if you're just defining a marriage that ends as a marriage that ends badly? I had a marriage that ended just fine, by my account.
posted by jessamyn


That spousing spree some time ago?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 10:51 AM on February 8, 2012


As I have said before: every marriage ends in death or divorce.

Ahem.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


two seemingly happy people are about to be separated by circumstance for a few months and are looking for guidance.

The two seemingly happy people are 20 years old. They will have many many more happy relationships in their lifetimes. Accepting that reality and breaking up means they do not close themselves off to a whole host of new experiences during what may be once-in-their-lifetimes travel opportunities. This is the best advice for their life stage.

I know this because I am 40. Having also been 20, however, I know that advice is unlikely to be heeded because they are in love, or at least one of them is. Ergo my suggestion to simply call a time out on the relationship and see what evolves and where they are when they get back. Which is likely to be very different places than when they left; this is the point of travel, and of being 20.

The advice to break up was given because in these circumstances, they should break up. They won't, so that needs to be taken into account, but it doesn't change the statistical, practical and developmental reality of the situation.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:54 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the least appealing things about this site is that it seems that when one of our own (especially one of our own who asks anonymously) is suffering heartache, a chorus rings out urging our troubled friends to treat people as disposable.

People are not disposable; bad relationships are.

Generally, when things get to the point that someone is writing to random strangers asking for advice, the relationship is not of a quality worth saving (there are exceptions, and "bad" is certainly a continuum, but individual happiness is worth more than nursing a relationship on life support for years before finally moving on).

If your relationship isn't full of joy, and you have no children, "consider looking for a different relationship" is very, very good advice. Particularly for younger people.

Bad relationships are utterly disposable. They are a dime a dozen. You can go to half the bars in the world tonight and find one.

Good relationships are much more rare, and worth looking for.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:02 AM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]




Why is it that seemingly every single AskMe in which there is any difficulty with a partner [...] is met with a volley of answers advising the asker to get out of this poisonous/doomed relationship?

Most likely it seemingly is because you seemingly have a large confirmation bias going on.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, can we not generalize about whether or not people stay in relationships when they shouldn't or how all relationships end or anything? We all have our experiences and intuitions and, sure, as I wrote, I personally think that people jump ship too quickly.

But I'm also extremely aware that this is very colored by my own personal experience and my own sensibilities. Or, more specifically, different kinds of people attract specific kinds of people and they have specific kinds of relationships, over and over. That's just how people are. So it's very, very easy to generalize about all other people based upon one's own extensive experience, which seems valid, but it's usually not...because one's own experience in this stuff is usually very strongly self-selected and relatively narrow.

And there's lots at stake in relationships and people's sensibilities about how to handle them are touchy subjects. I think it's good to discuss this stuff, and I think maybe it would be good for people to realize that there's a diversity of perspectives on relationships when they go into an AskMe thread and submit an answer. And these things are all going to go better when we're not projecting our own experiences and values on other people.

Categorical "shoulds" or "shouldn'ts", especially when coupled with implicit (or explicit!) value judgments about the people who disagree with you, is just not very nice. Everyone who thinks that young couple should break up is not saying/thinking that people are "disposable". Everyone who thinks that young couple should stay together is not foolish and unrealistic.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


We just need a Greasemonkey plug-in that searches for comments with DTMFA in it, filtering them out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:19 AM on February 8, 2012


Metafilter: Don't Taters Make For Awesome?
posted by timsteil at 11:24 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I am pretty sure I have responded with advice to go into therapy and most likely end the relationship because I thought the OP was either actively hurting their partner or just so wrong about how to be part of a couple that they'd probably boogered this one up beyond repair. That makes me even worse than people who you see as trigger-happy with DTMFA. Hate on me at will. I'm just another speaking ape yapping on the internets.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:27 AM on February 8, 2012


Dear Metafilter, No, not every answer to this particular relationship question was DTMFA. Next please.
posted by Namlit at 11:27 AM on February 8, 2012


One of the least appealing things about this site is that it seems that when one of our own (especially one of our own who asks anonymously) is suffering heartache, a chorus rings out urging our troubled friends to treat people as disposable.

I read this site every day and that just does not happen.

Also, ending a relationship with someone is not "disposing" of them, unless you murder them. People are perfectly free to break up and get back together later if things change.

How many of us have gotten back together with someone and it still sucked? Multiple times with the same person? I know have. Objectively speaking, there are a ton of people in the world in relationships that suck. Because we're human, and we like sex and not being lonely. But that doesn't make them good relationships.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2012


It's extremely easy to tell someone you don't know that they should break up with someone you don't love.
posted by Decani at 11:40 AM on February 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's extremely easy to tell someone you don't know that they should break up with someone you don't love.

Why yes it is. This is presumably exactly why people are here asking questions: To get unbiased opinions from people who don't have an emotional investment in the situation.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why yes it is. This is presumably exactly why people are here asking questions: To get unbiased opinions from people who don't have an emotional investment in the situation.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:43 PM on February 8


I think this kinda misses the point.
posted by Decani at 11:45 AM on February 8, 2012


i think that's one of the utilities of ask.metafilter. if you wanted advice from people who knew you and your partner, you'd ask your mother, your best friend, your cousin. people who ask relationship questions are asking metafilter presumably looking for opinions that are above the fog of it all. sometimes the comments are too flippant or too driven by experience/baggage, but the great thing about this place is that within 15 minutes there's usually 5 people disagreeing.
posted by nadawi at 11:46 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking of an askme from not too long ago in which the OP outlined a pretty bad relationship situation - there wasn't, to my recollection, any physical abuse, but there was a lot of emotionally manipulative behavior from their SO. The OP wanted to know how to mentally and emotionally cope with living that way; divorce, they said, was off the table.

To which people responded, in a reasonable (I thought) fashion: Why is it off the table? Is it off the table forever, or just for some time period, or what?

And a lot of people answered the question sort of sideways, by relating their own experiences in similar relationships - saying things like "Here's how I coped: I drank a lot. Then I left." (That's not a direct quote, but many answers were of that flavor.) And many more people said look, this isn't okay, the way you're being treated, and you don't have to just grin and bear it. If your SO won't try therapy etc., you need to ask yourself why you're putting up with this. And the OP eventually updated (it was anon, as I recall), saying that so many people saying "This is not okay, how your SO is treating you! Not! Okay!" gave the OP some needed perspective, and with the help of a friend, they moved out.

This, to me, is the best thing about askme when it comes to questions like this: giving the OP perspective they may not have. All advice from strangers on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, of course, but more than occasionally, people entirely removed from the situation can see things that the OP cannot.
posted by rtha at 11:47 AM on February 8, 2012 [17 favorites]


The reference to "transgendered hookers" is weird and is not really suitable for MetaFilter.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've posted an anonymous relationship AskMe and gotten DTMFA in just about every response. That's because I was in an abusive relationship and the MF deserved to be D'd. In my current relationship, I can't even imagine asking a question because I know if any problems came up we'd just talk them through and find a solution together. Even if the solution were "get therapy," we'd decide that together as well. So I think by the time a relationship gets so bad that a poster feels the need to ask a bunch of internet strangers for advice, it's quite likely that the relationship is over but the poster just doesn't want to admit it yet.

I also think there are a lot of relationships that are abusive where the partner has managed to destroy the asker's view of reality so much that they know there's something not right but they don't actually understand whether it's them or their partner at fault, how bad the situation is, etc. In my case, the DTMFA responses were a wake-up call that something was seriously wrong. I wasn't strong enough to get out of the relationship right away, but I did get out fairly soon after asking the question and I'm not sure I would have had the sense to do so if it hadn't been for Mefi. So I for one would like to thank every single person who said DTMFA to me because it was exactly right and exactly what I needed to be told. I think there are a lot of relationship askers out there in the same boat.
posted by hazyjane at 12:11 PM on February 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

Look, that's bullshit.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:13 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


As I have said before: every marriage ends in death or divorce. Quite possibly life gets better post-divorce, but the marriage itself ends badly.

Every delicious meal ends in shit or puke.
posted by clearlydemon at 12:34 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sometimes both...!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:36 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree a chorus of DTMFA's is not helpful (I have seen them recommended in situtions where the partnership has lasted a decade or more and produced children and there won't be the opportunity for a clean break like in shorter relationship).

So I try to limit my own advice to things that can help the relationship or help the person in the relationship get prespective. Sometimes too though, I think the problem is that people want to vent about their relationship but that aren't quite ready to hear advice. And telling (often not suggesting but outright telling) DTMFA (especially when the OP has said that is off the table for now) tends to make people defensive, feel unlistened to and they may dismiss good advice because of that framing.
posted by saucysault at 12:37 PM on February 8, 2012


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

Look, that's bullshit.

Seriously, that's bullshit. Ending brings a host of bad feelings, but that's not the same as ending badly. Ending badly is when you see his wedding announcement the day after your boyfriend of ten years dumps you. Or ending badly is in a psychiatric emergency room. Or on fire.

Ending badly is something within a boundary of cruelty or vicious falsehood or physical pain or extended suffering which could have been avoided. Lots of relationships end with a whisper. Some end with shock, say, a sudden death but no deliberate cruelty.

In my experience, fair (or even good) relationships do not end badly, even if they end. A good relationship is not necessarily the last relationship you will ever be in, but the hallmarks of a good relationships (mutual respect being a big one) tend to keep things from ending badly, even if the relationship ends, even if it's painful to leave the relationship.

At any rate, I don't know if DTMFA is tossed around too much in relationship advice. It's very easy to look at my own life and see when DTMFA was in flaming 30-foot letters on the hill and I did not see them. Honestly, even if someone I loved and trusted had pointed the letters out to me, I wouldn't have seen them. Asking for relationship advice is pretty much trying to trick yourself into seeing what you really want by flipping a coin.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:38 PM on February 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


The two seemingly happy people are 20 years old. They will have many many more happy relationships in their lifetimes. Accepting that reality and breaking up means they do not close themselves off to a whole host of new experiences during what may be once-in-their-lifetimes travel opportunities. This is the best advice for their life stage.'

That's pretty well a matter of opinion; there isn't any objective way of measuring what would be best. They aren't very vocal about it on metafilter but plenty of people aren't looking for many more relationships and are quite happy to turn 40 having only dated a couple people and having been with the same person since their early 20s.
posted by Mitheral at 12:42 PM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


i agree that a certain amount of drive-by DTMFA goes on in relationship askme's, and that people have a tendency to pile on, for good or ill, but i think we need to be realistic here - the askme's we're talking about are non-experts trying to answer relationship questions based on descriptions written by non-writers, many of whom are in distress. you've got self-selection bias running in both directions, and a whole host of other barriers to comprehension and communication. frankly i'm continually astounded by the high level of sensitivity and empathy displayed in the average relationship askme - and would gently suggest to the op that they consider ratcheting down their expectations a little. the perfect being the enemy of the good, and all...
posted by facetious at 1:29 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

What the hell? You would prefer that everybody's relationship that has to end, ends in screaming, tears, broken plates and death threats? And everyone walks away feeling raw and damaged?

Daaaaaaaamn.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:56 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


ricochet biscuit: "I am continually amazed and disappointed that so many bright people who have such incisive thoughts about politics, culture and art seem to see every knotty relationship as being of the Gordian variety."

This is not just a MeFi problem, it's a 'modern society' problem. I see this all the time, all around me - it seems that most people's expectations from a relationship are so high that unless things are absolutely perfect in every way, they want out instead of working on the issue/s or even thinking about whether their expectations may be a tad high.

Having said that, the question linked to was a long way from any kind of knee-jerk DTMFA territory. A reasonable observation with absolutely the wrong piece of evidence to back it up ;-)
posted by dg at 1:57 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The theory is that children who are raised in an environment where they perceive relationships as transitory will maintain that perspective as adults. Everyone's mileage probably varies.

Oooh! Counter-example! I have five parents. Yes, start calculating the number of divorces involved for THAT to be true, and you'll still miss one where my father was only married for a month. You'll also miss the one my mom had before she married my father... and the one my step father had after he and my mom were divorced... and the two my second step-father had before he married my mom... And the one my step-mother had before meeting my father... So. That's... fourteen marriages and twelve divorces amongst all of my parents.

I'm only thirty and have been divorced once, but I did not initiate it and I never would have. Ever. We had some pretty big insurmountable issues. It was a legit divorce and I believe we're both happier now. I wanted children, he didn't. And everyone I know who hears about the divorce for the first time assumes I broke things off in order to have kids. They'd be wrong.

And during the divorce? When I was doing everything in my power to try and work things out? My friends kept asking "When will it be enough for you to just drop it?" And the answer to that was no, never. Short of violence, there's nothing my ex could have done where I would have just said "You know what? You can just go."

I'm re-married and I'm no psychic, but I can not imagine what it would take for me to leave my husband. I can not imagine anything that I have not seen in my life where I would choose to leave rather than try and make it work. I've seen too many divorces to ever think that it's the easy way out. I've seen the soul destroying all encompassing hell that is divorce and I've seen it over and over again. I would never, ever initiate it unless the only "better" option was death.

It can absolutely go the other way. My ex's parents were (and I assume still are) together after 25+ years when we married. He'd never seen a divorce and when our relationship hit the rocks, divorce (quite rightly) seemed like a good option to him. For me, I just couldn't do it. I'd been saying since I was a very small child that I was only going to get married once and I meant it. I seriously wouldn't have re-married were it not for needing better health insurance for the birth of my impending son with my now-husband. The commitment is that big to me. Seeing so many marriages collapse around me made me take it very, very seriously indeed.
posted by sonika at 2:12 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, nothing ends until it ends badly.

Ye gods and little fishes, but a lot of hackles got hoisted by this sentence. If a relationship ends pleasantly and by mutual agreement and both parties* stay friendly, in my view that is not a relationship ending, it is a relationship changing. If something ends -- really, truly ends with people going their separate ways forever -- there is some pain and bad feelings involved in every single instance I have ever personally experienced or ever heard of. These usually don't last, and not infrequently one or all parties are the better off for it, but indisputably, when it ends, it ends badly.

I am not a Pollyana, but I think any realistic view of the way humans work must admit that when long-term romantic relationships end, there are usually bad feelings on someone's part. If those of you dispute my claim wish to relate your tales of divorces and breakups that really ended a relationship forever and everyone was extremely happy and pleasant-feeling through the whole process, I am very keen to hear. Please speak up.

*Or all parties, as the case may be.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:18 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was going to comment in that thread, but decided not to because I thought they were probably too young for my advice to be very meaningful, though oddly enough I imagine it would have been among the least "mature" of answers. I would have said that I don't really get the need to make these either "Break Up" or "Commit Forever" kind of decisions... why not just see how things go?

But I often feel that I'm out of step with how things are done these days, when people act so sensibly and plan everything out. I'm actually sort of glad that I had only my own (comparatively) careless instinct to guide me in the early days of my relationship with my husband, because we did everything wrong. We got together too fast after a divorce, we moved in together too fast, we combined finances too fast, we spent too much time together, didn't share exhaustive histories or expectations, didn't settle the big questions (kids? career? buy or rent? cats or dogs? toilet paper: over or under?), didn't have a life plan or a safe word. We just both felt this overwhelming feeling of coming home to a home that you didn't even ever know existed for you... which these days would probably be dismissed as limerance. But we weren't naive or foolish (or inexperienced); we just each individually and together felt like we wanted to go with how things were going – without necessarily trying to make a contract or a blueprint of how things would go forever.

It's now forever, and we're still going along like that, but I asked myself how I would advise my imaginary daughter, and realized I didn't know. And I also realized that I didn't even understand the language being used in the question, because to me an "S.O." is not someone you've been dating a few months and would consider breaking up with over a few months of separation, but someone you've already committed to in a serious way, and then I realized that this is probably because I'm behind the times in terms of how that descriptor is being used now, which probably just means girlfriend/boyfriend except without the gender conformity, and more serious than "we've been on a few dates." And this made it clearer that I probably didn't need to be answering that question at all.

Ultimately, in terms of the depth and breadth of Ask Metafilter advice, I agree with Ivan Fyodorovich who said "one's own experience in this stuff is usually very strongly self-selected and relatively narrow," and also with nadawi, who said "but the great thing about this place is that within 15 minutes there's usually 5 people disagreeing."
posted by taz (staff) at 2:32 PM on February 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


The framing and example in this MeTa may be off, but the point is dead on. DTMFA seems to be the stock response in relationship AskMes, even when the asker specifies "me and my SO are very close, so please no DTMFA".

It seems a shame, and very tedious. Why it is I really can't imagine - AskMes tend to be great otherwise.
posted by iotic at 2:42 PM on February 8, 2012


If a relationship ends pleasantly and by mutual agreement and both parties* stay friendly, in my view that is not a relationship ending, it is a relationship changing. If something ends -- really, truly ends with people going their separate ways forever -- there is some pain and bad feelings involved in every single instance I have ever personally experienced or ever heard of. These usually don't last, and not infrequently one or all parties are the better off for it, but indisputably, when it ends, it ends badly.

My parents had a very bad end to their marriage. And then maybe 15 or 20 years later, they were talking again - I mean, not talking because they had to arrange some custody-related thing, but talking because they had things to chat about. They would willingly call each other up every once in a while to say hi, how's your health, etc.

So was that a relationship that ended, or did it change? It would depend on when you were when you saw it. In 1976, you would've looked at them and said "they have parted ways forever." By the late 80s, you would have to say "their relationship changed."

Nearly all relationships that stop being *romantic* relationships end with some level of bad feeling - at the very least, sadness, and whether or not the people involved end up becoming actual friends is no sign that their breakup was not-awful or 100% awful. One of my closest friends lives downstairs; I put her through a humiliating, terrible breakup in college, and it took us years to get to the point of being friends.
posted by rtha at 2:46 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The framing and example in this MeTa may be off, but the point is dead on

I realized belatedly it is far from my best, but thanks.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:49 PM on February 8, 2012


One of the least appealing things about this site is that it seems that when one of our own (especially one of our own who asks anonymously) is suffering heartache, a chorus rings out urging our troubled friends to treat people as disposable.

True. But in the problem is at lot of time the asker is wanting to confirm his/her. And a natural response to when people gripe about their significant other, a room full of strangers will often times go with suggesting to break up. In almost every relationship question we get just one side of the story. Sometimes the OP will go out of their way to try and paint the person in as positive light, "sure he bangs hookers on the side using my money, but he's so sweet, is a great cook and is great with the kids!"

I personally don't give DTMFA advice because I don't know these people and all the facts. If I were friends with the couples in question, I might give a DTMFA or I might suggest they work in it. Most of my advice in the category is "you should talk to your partner" or "you should tell him/her what you just said here."

Also to me, DTMFA is just a metafilter term borrowed from Dan Savage that means the person should break up in as non-disposable manner as possible. That the MF stands for motherfucker doesn't make it an angry or mad reaction. Then again, I've been told I have a problem not taking words literally enough.
posted by birdherder at 2:52 PM on February 8, 2012


I have posted a few anonymous askmes in human relations, and on one, the responses were SOOO DTMFA about two friendships in turmoil, when it really was out of proportion to the question (could have been my framing, which was emotional and overwrought) and it was really, really depressing to me to read.

That being said, I'm not friends with either person now, but because they D(ed)TMFA to ME shortly after that question, despite my attempts at reconciliation.

So maybe metafilter was right. It was still frustrating and depressing to hope that people would give solutions and resolutions to the problem and get a bunch of internet strangers saying "yeah, fuck them. it's not worth it."

I also wrote one of the askmes someone mentioned upthread (not ready to fully out myself on it yet) where the responses were appropriate and helped me a lot.

I guess I'm saying that it may be a knee jerk reaction to pull out the DTMFA as much as we do here, but it isn't always a bad thing. I do feel like it happens a lot, but let's be honest, a lot of the situations I read about on here are pretty f'ed up. There are a lot of horrible people and bad relationships out there. I wish it wasn't like that.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:05 PM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think I came down more or less in favor of staying together in that thread. But basically, there were three camps: stay together; break up because you're young; break up because you sound like you want to. So, this is a terrible way of making your point, because that was emphatically not a DTMFA thread of responses. And really, I'm not sure this problem exists. Yes, sometimes people counsel to break up, and they have different thresholds. But it seems to me that DTMFA responses are often because and when people hold on far too long or stay in relationships which have serious problems and which no longer seem to be good -- and the asker wants or needs to be told that it's okay to end it.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:38 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently asked an anon relationship question. I specifically asked how to deal with other people's comments and theories about my somewhat unusual relationship. I ended up wading into the thread, and 'outing' myself as the OP because all I was getting was more comments and theories about my relationship, not advice on how to deal with the input I was already getting. There was rampant speculation and many suggestions of how to surreptitiously spy on him, down to people suggesting I go over court records and sex offender databases to check him out, that I look through his phone records, check his computer, even to go through his pockets, if I remember correctly. In short, that I should not trust anything he had said to me, despite no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part. I did not DTMFA. I continued to trust him, told my friends and family that I appreciated their concern but that I was happy, and remained patient with him; understanding that he, like me, was a complicated human. It's now a couple of months down the line, we're getting pretty committed and serious (we're discussing getting a dog together) and our relationship makes us both really happy. So, I'm really glad I did not pay attention to the overt or coded DTMFA feedback, which was the majority of what I did receive, along with some cautionary tales based on other user's bad experiences. I'm even more happy that I didn't do any of those things to spy on him, many of which I considered very distasteful, if not downright immoral.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 4:52 PM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


could have been my framing, which was emotional and overwrought

I think this is a really important point. A lot of the time when someone is writing an AskMe that is about an emotional subject and that emotion is clearly coming through in their writing, a lot of people perceive a sort of urgency to the situation that may not be there most of the time. We've mentioned this a lot when people get argumentative in various places on the site: just because you are emotional about a topic [angry, frightened, irritated] does not mean you have to act that way towards other people here, particularly if they are not the people who have caused or exacerbated the problem. Often if people get a chance to step back and collect themselves, they can more clearly explain the overall situation and not how it seems through the lens of very intense emotions and this is often better. However, it's not a reason for deletion "OP is clearly just having a really shitty day and needs to come back and ask this question when they're not so upset" though maybe sometimes it should be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:17 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure confirmation bias comes into play here, with whatever advice tends to annoy you the most being the type you notice most often, but I find cliche relationship advice along the lines of "Serious relationships aren't all fun and games, they take hard work, don't run at the first sign of a problem, blah, blah, blah" to be just as prevalent as DTMFA responses and no less annoying.

For whatever anecdotal evidence is worth, when I look back at my own life (and that of many of my friends) I see far more relationships that got dragged on for way too long past the point of it being exceedingly obvious it was inherently incompatible, while I can think of very few relationships where I ever say, "I really didn't give that one enough of a chance".

People stay in fundamentally bad relationships all the time, in my opinion generally due to some combination of:

- Fear of being alone
- Fear of change
- Not wanting to be without a regular activity partner
- Not wanting to be without a regular sex partner
- Low self-esteem (thinking "this is the best I can hope for" even if the relationship is unsatisfying).

While I'll acknowledge occasionally being shocked at how low some Mefites DTMFA threshold is, the fact is, just because two people condescended to date each other for a time doesn't mean their relationship is so valuable that it needs to be fought for at all costs. Lord knows I really would have benefited from AskMe had it been around when I was graduating from college and didn't see any reason why my relationship with my college sweetheart wouldn't last forever even though we were going to have to try long-distance for a few years (hint: It did not).
posted by The Gooch at 6:39 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


There are a lot of different types of folks that ask for advice on Askme. Most of the time, one party is messed up, the other party is messed up, or both parties are messed up. Surprisingly the fourth category - the one where neither party is messed up - well, the fourth category rarely gets the DTMFA advice from askme. (Generally those are the tantric sex threads and the folks are asking for NSFW suggestions - ah, puppy love.)

What that means is someone that has self-identified themselves as having a significant enough problem in their relationship to ask it in Askme, and one or both parties in it lack the skills to solve it.
1. If there's obvious physical abuse, I (we) jump straight to the DTMFA and possibly counseling, legal, and/or police protection.
2. The next step is to examine whether someone in the relationship is being obviously emotionally abused - then the next round of DTMFA advice begins, generally with some counseling advice, a pep talk, and some stories.

3. The last case is when things get grey, and instead of one party failing, its that the communications that cause the problems. That means, I (we) begin looking for empirical advice to see if one of the two (or three, or four...) parties involved has the interpersonal skills and the time to commit to improving their relationship. If they don't, or are unwilling to do so, then there needs to be a come-to-jesus moment. If the person their with won't commit to impoving the relationship - the relationship can't be saved. If the person asking won't commit, or is incapable of taking the steps to improve the relationship - the relationship can't be saved.

And if we've gone through all of these things, and we find two people who are still struggling with their relationship and they get DTMFA advice - I *know* that they are smart enough to ignore that advice and instead find the more nuanced responses.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:46 PM on February 8, 2012


You're probably not going to start asking random strangers on the Internet about your relationship unless the situation is really bad. That leads to DTMFA likelihood #1.

If you make it fairly clear that you want out of the relationship except for XYZ reasons (staying for the kids, whatever), that's another DTMFA likelihood.

(In the case of the LDR girl's post, it sounds like a great relationship and I'd say to keep it-- EXCEPT she's not interested in maintaining an LDR. She made several points about it. If she was really sold on the relationship, she might have sounded more enthusiastic about it or been more like, "I really really love this guy, but everyone tells me we might as well break up now because we're doomed, but I don't wanna...help?" In the end, she's going to have to decide whether her disinterest in LDR'ing outweighs the love she has for the guy, or vice versa. But if they are just looking for permission to leave, then people will give it to them.)

If you are being abused, or suspect you are being abused but are too in love/enmeshed in the situation to see clearly, that's DTMFA likelihood #3, and pretty much the situation for which DTMFA was invented.

If you are in a situation where your SO is going to keep doing bad/destructive behavior and they are determined to do that no matter how much you ask, and you've asked them to stop and they won't, and you've possibly been to couples counseling, and nothing is improving... well, "too in love/enmeshed to see clearly" rears its ugly head again. In general, any situation where the problematic SO has zero intention of changing their tune and whatever they doing is making the poster miserable and the only real option is leaving-- that's #4. I think those people know deep down they need to leave, but are asking in hopes that some miraculous suggestion will come up in the thread that will save them from having to leave. Unfortunately, that miraculous relationship-saving suggestion probably doesn't exist most of the time.

Those are the main situations that call for a DTMFA. Given the "love is blind" or "I don't want to hurt them" feelings that someone is having, they need to have that anvil dropped on their heads.

Now, yeah, some relationship questions are ones that can actually be worked out if both partners are willing to cooperate. They just don't get mentally lumped into the same category as "OMG DTMFA ALL THE TIME" because they are more rare.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:11 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apoch: "DTMFA means dump the mother fucker already? I thought it meant "Don't Trust MetaFilter's Advice.""

I always thought DTMFA stood for Dump The MotherFucking Asshole. I was close...
posted by SisterHavana at 7:55 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was in college, one of my sociology professors asked a class I was in to raise their hands if they felt it was better to leave a relationship with serious problems (he gave examples) than to remain and try resolving them.

There were about 300 people in the class. About half of them raised their hands. He then asked the entire class to raise our hands if our parents were divorced. Nearly everyone who had their hands raised kept them up.

The theory is that children who are raised in an environment where they perceive relationships as transitory will maintain that perspective as adults. Everyone's mileage probably varies.


Agreed that everyone's mileage probably varies. I was kind of surprised to see that last line, The theory is that children who are raised in an environment where they perceive relationships as transitory will maintain that perspective as adults. My theory would have been that children raised in an environment with miserable or frequently arguing parents, and might have wished for the divorce to happen before it actually did, might just not want a repeat of that. Or might see sticking it out as self-delusion, drawing out suffering in a situation that won't realistically end well.
posted by cairdeas at 8:04 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Indeed, it seems possible to reframe "they perceive relationships as transitory" as "the end of a relationship that has serious problems is not a terrifying unknown to them." At any rate, surely it would be more accurate in most cases to say "they perceive relationships as potentially transitory." I would imagine there's a spectrum where one end has people who are wiser than most about what makes a relationship untenable and the other consists of people who ended up with hair triggers, whether on account of circumstances or innate (whatever that means) vulnerabilities or a combination of the two.
posted by Adventurer at 8:30 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Westerners, Americans in particular, have become unrooted. There is freedom and possibility there, but the downside is loneliness and selfishness. Lately I have come to question this model more and more - I tend to ask myself, "What would the Reverend Al Green do?". I think of the other stakeholders and to what extent I am in the wrong. Taking responsibility and being ready to apologize has made things better with this wife than I have ever had it.

I should have left her when she spent the whole night reading through my email, about a month after our relationship started. I am really glad I went against my own principles then.

I would suggest as a general rule of thumb, be ready to break up with your first two or three partners. When you get towards your late 30s / your third life partner, dial it back and try to avoid the DTMFA thinking.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:57 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You only get one life. You can spend it being miserable with someone who, to list just a few recent relationship AskMe examples: bosses you around in your own home to the extent he won't even let you buy a broom, grabs you and pulls you angrily up out of a chair to force you to go someplace you don't want to go, lies about soliciting prostitutes online, or even drives your car but flat out refuses to help pay for it when he has the means to do so. Or you can leave and either learn to be happy alone or take a chance on finding someone who'll treat you with respect.

Yes, my parents are divorced, and no I don't believe in sticking around in a dating situation where I'm being mistreated. If the two are related then I feel fortunate for having learned the lesson I did. Recognizing a bad relationship and having the guts to get the hell out of it is a life skill, not a moral failing. Marriage is different especially when kids are involved - then you owe it to your kids to make sure the marriage can't be saved, but even then there's a point of no return and I think DTMFAs can help people recognize it.
posted by hazyjane at 10:22 PM on February 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


As The Gooch says, everyone has their own biases here.

I see way too many people in general try to make relationships work that have huge problems and little investment. The advice I'd give to someone in a 20 year marriage is different than a 2 month relationship, to be sure. Maybe it's because I had a long (14 year) marriage/relationship, but when I see people saying it's been, say 3-6 months and they have all these problems, I wonder why they don't move on (and this happens a lot in AskMe). What are you losing in such a short time? If I was 21 I might feel different, such a time would feel longer, etc.

But at any rate, I think everyone should give the advice they think is right. If everyone thinks DTMFA is the advice they'd give, they SHOULD post that. Thats the whole point, right? It's not like the asker is bound by any responses.

(And I definitely do not think a relationship ending is even a bad thing, necessarily. Sometimes two people have a good time for a while, learn some things from each other, and then find it's time to move on. Maybe there is some pain associated with that, but it's not a failure).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:09 AM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


"But at any rate, I think everyone should give the advice they think is right. If everyone thinks DTMFA is the advice they'd give, they SHOULD post that. Thats the whole point, right? It's not like the asker is bound by any responses. "

Well, yes and no.

May I be more abstract? Long, long ago I internalized the socratic view (long before I'd read Plato) that we pretty much know very little and all knowledge is provisional. (Though, to be sure, Socrates says this, but then reaches toward a mysticism to anchor a certainty. But I digress.) This probably came from my extremely strong orientation toward scientific empiricism from an early age.

But I realized early on that radical doubt taken to its extreme, logical conclusion is an impossible way to live. We really have no choice but to believe we know things, that we're right about the things we believe.

So what I try to do is to use radical doubt as a principle, see all my beliefs as provisional, but in the moment assume that I'm right and have the courage of my convictions, so to speak.

Well, in this context, many of us have pretty strong generalized beliefs about the romantic relationships we've experienced and observed. Those beliefs are expressed in numerous comments above. And, absolutely, if we think we're correct in those generalizations then there's nothing wrong with reasoning about someone else's relationship, when asked for advice about it, using those generalizations.

Yet, I think it's important to keep reminding ourselves that it's entirely possible, perhaps likely, that our generalizations are wrong. We should be open to that possibility. For me, reading this thread, I'm found myself more and more inclined to accept both opposing positions as being true. How? Well, I'm not sure, exactly. Partly because I think that different people from different subcultures and different ages and different families and different personality types will have more diverse experiences in relationships that we probably expect, thus making generalizations suspect. Partly because I think that it might somehow be possible that both things could be simultaneously true in an individual case—maybe people stick around and work on the wrong things and maybe people quit over the wrong things, or in some other respect both impulses can be operative and bad for a relationship. I don't know.

What I do know is that this thread has strongly inclined me to think a lot more about how differently people view relationships and approach their management. One common theme in most of these comments is making a cost/benefit calculation. And, you know, there are so many factors involved in a cost/benefit calculation concerning a romantic relationship, that it seems to me to be kind of absurd to think that any one person's view of that will be correct, the absolute truth. We each weigh many of these things differently. People assume that their own evaluation of what is and isn't a "bad reason" to stay or to leave is necessarily the correct one. But that's a pretty shaky judgment to make about someone else's values and experience and desires. It's shaky enough when we do it with regard to ourselves.

Maybe we should approach these questions on AskMe more from the standpoint of helping the asker find the tools to make these determinations for themselves, not guide them toward the determination that we think is the right one.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:19 AM on February 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


a chorus rings out urging our troubled friends to treat people as disposable.

While i don't read the relationship AskMe's often enough to say with any degree of statistical confidence, I do however pick up a sense of the disposableness above, in general. I do find MetaFilter harsh sometimes (but acknowledge that sometimes its easier to be so across the internets and maybe your friends won't say what the green will).

I'd say that often the greater problem might be what is embedded in your post than your issue of concern - that people bring all their baggage with them when answering even mildly related questions. There was some of that recently in a thread I saw being discussed.

And worse, sometimes answering blatantly incorrectly - for example claiming that Indian passport holders don't need a UK visa that I saw earlier today. I don't think that's even baggage unless its a carryon of "I must answer question regardless of accuracy" sort.
posted by infini at 9:47 AM on February 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe we should approach these questions on AskMe more from the standpoint of helping the asker find the tools to make these determinations for themselves, not guide them toward the determination that we think is the right one.

I think this is right in many (most?) cases. Which is why the even-more-standard answer of Therapy! is a good one, because a good therapist does exactly what you say, and can do it in a much better way than an AskMe can (because there's a back-and-forth in a therapy setting that we don't have here to anywhere near the same degree, even with askers who threadsit).

that people bring all their baggage with them when answering even mildly related questions

Or even Meta-questions... this thread is full of people (myself included, I'm sure) who take their baggage and apply that to how people "should" answer (people who are predisposed to leave vs predisposed to stay each arguing their side is "right" in general).

Which is why I come back to the idea that the only real way to handle this is for the asker to realize this and filter the answers accordingly -- you know everyone has baggage and is answering half from their own experience and half from the question, so you have to figure out a way to use the answers regardless of that. No amount of "DTMFA is bad" or "DTMFA is good" will solve that issue.

(again --- therapists in general _should_ be better about separating out their baggage and working on giving people long-term tools to solve their own problems. While that is the ideal way to deal with AskMe quesitons, I don't think it's practical to replicate that in one or two answers)
posted by wildcrdj at 2:24 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing I keep seeing in relationship questions is "people don't change"--which then, in turn, leads to "DTMFA." It's weird, though, because when the questions are not "what's wrong with my partner" but "what's wrong with me" (or "what's wrong with my child") the answer is always "you need therapy!" which seems premised upon the belief in the possibility of change.

The fact is, when you've lived long enough you do see just how much people can change. You see just how hard the "should I leave or should I stay" question can be--even for people you know really, really well. I know people who I thought were horribly unsuited to each other and whose relationship was clearly unhappy who ended up in strong, loving relationships. I know people who seemed in every way perfect for each other who ended up breaking up and never talking to each other again. Human beings are complex. They often don't really know what they want. They often misidentify the things that are making them unhappy.

I find myself amazed, often, entering an AskMe thread where we've heard one side of a couple's problems and that a very fragmentary and incomplete account and people start rushing in saying "people don't change, you should just cut your losses and get out now." Has the person talked things through with their partner? Have they tried couples therapy? Is the person's account completely honest? Who cares! We've heard that they're unhappy about some aspect of their relationship, so it's obviously time to burn that sucker to the ground!

Part of the problem, I think, comes from the fact that, inevitably, people describing relationship problems on AskMe want the community to be on their side, so there's a tendency to present relationship problems (which in the real world are usually complex two-person dynamics) as simply "here's this bad thing that my partner does to poor innocent me" (as opposed to "here's this unhappy dynamic that me and my partner keep falling into"). The people answering the question, in turn, have no reason to feel any allegiance or sympathy for the partner--their fellow Mefite, after all, is obviously the "victim" here--so they immediately bond with the Asker by repeating the same logic back to them: you're perfect, s/he's a jerk, DTMFA! It's not a very propitious dynamic for producing subtle, thoughtful responses to complex problems.
posted by yoink at 3:10 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing I keep seeing in relationship questions is "people don't change"

I feel like I've been seeing this more as well, and it's like some kind of bizarro metafilter version of "You can't make someone change," and that, I think, is true. You can offer incentives and support and even ultimatums, but the person won't change unless they want to.
posted by rtha at 3:38 PM on February 9, 2012


"I find myself amazed, often, entering an AskMe thread where we've heard one side of a couple's problems and that a very fragmentary and incomplete account and people start rushing in saying 'people don't change, you should just cut your losses and get out now.'"

This is a big, general problem I have with AskMe relationship questions.

Again, I have only my own experience from which to generalize, but the one constant in all the relationship difficulties I've ever experienced—family, friend, lover, other—is that there are two competing narratives and perspectives on what's going on and it's really damn hard to determine if one is true and the other is false.

Yeah, partly I know this has a lot to do with me—my own childhood history and stuff has led to a pathology where I take on all the responsibility for the relationship, all the blame, and I question all my judgments. So, obviously, I'm going to be much more convinced that the "truth" of the relationship is far more uncertain than probably most people. On the other hand, I wonder if what's happening in that isn't the same as the whole thing about depressed people and self-evaluation—that depressed people self-evaluate closer to the truth than do people who are not depressed. Because it seems to me that most people are pretty damn sure of their view that the problems are mostly the other person's fault.

Anyway, because I have this compulsion to take responsibility for the relationship, I end up putting "finding out the truth of the matter" ahead of everything, including my own pride and mental health. When there's problems, I don't care whose fault it is, I just want to know what's really and truly going on so I can "fix" it. And so I end up desperate to find some way of getting an unbiased and complete view of the relationship from someone else.

And, you know, that's not possible. Because of all the things I just wrote, and other parts of my personality, I think it's likely that I disclose a great deal to people when I'm seeking relationship advice—a lot of stuff other people wouldn't say because it makes them look bad, or whatever. But even so, people have always, always been more likely to take my side and be critical of the person I'm having trouble with than they are to tell me it's my fault. I sometimes feel like I have to work at convincing friends and family that I'm at fault.

So here we have people asking questions on AskMe that are obviously one-sided in the ways that you describe. I mean, maybe I'm full of shit about my view, in my attempt to be self-critical, that it's any more accurate...perhaps I end up distorting things in the other direction. If I posted an AskMe relationship question, maybe the responses would be "you're clearly not ready for a relationship". I don't know. What I do know is that the truth of the situation in a relationship is deeply difficult to ascertain.

Given that, I don't know how anyone can confidently pronounce judgment on a relationship, ever. Well, not "ever", because there are things that are truly unambiguous and self-evident. But more often than not, I think, it's obscure. The only people who have complete and firsthand knowledge are the people in the relationship, and they're also the most biased and deluded.

I'm not saying, at all, that this validates my own intuition that people are too quick here to advise DTMFA. Rather, I think this argues that people shouldn't be quick to advise either way. Which, I guess, just goes to the "get therapy" thing. Or, alternatively, "use and trust your own judgment", which is also probably very good advice, usually.

But...well...I am strongly skeptical about how people construct narratives and sweeping judgments about people's relationships based upon such meager data as what's mentioned in an AskMe question.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


But...well...I am strongly skeptical about how people construct narratives and sweeping judgments about people's relationships based upon such meager data as what's mentioned in an AskMe question.

That happens sometimes, but more often than not people's advice is preceded (in spirit) by the unspoken caveat, "based on what you've written here..." I've never said DTMFA but I've said, in essence, "why are you still with this person?" and if I didn't add explicit disclaimers: "the person [as you've described him here] treats you [as you've described yourself here], like crap [from my perspective, which is itself borne of my own relationship experience]" it's because I assumed they were there implicitly, for my answer and everyone else's.
posted by headnsouth at 4:07 PM on February 9, 2012


but more often than not people's advice is preceded (in spirit) by the unspoken caveat, "based on what you've written here..."

Actually, I don't think it's a good idea to leave that caveat unspoken. Or, rather, I think it's actively helpful to make it explicit. Draw the poster's attention to the way they've framed the issue, don't just automatically reinforce their own characterization of it.

In other words, I think "the way you've described your boyfriend it makes it really hard to see why you're still with him" is a really useful comment--it asks the poster to reflect on the description they've given: is it one-sided? Is it really an accurate summary of their feelings? Are there important things they've left out?

On the other hand "this guy's clearly a jerk, DTMFA!" just seems to close the door on a more nuanced reading. What's worse is that when a thread takes a "DTMFA" turn early on and the Asker drops back in to say "no, he's really not that bad...here are all these good things he does" people tend to dig in to defend their original take on the situation: the later revisions get dismissed as self-delusion or special pleading or what have you. And who knows--it could be. But we really have no reason to give priority to the first version over the revised version. It's not as if people who are upset enough to float such a question on AskMe are likely to put down a perfectly balanced and finely nuanced account of the situation on the first go: in fact they've probably been given that final push to actually write the question because of some recent contretemps and they're writing when they're still upset and hoping (consciously or not) to find people who will side with them and tell them that they were right, dammit.
posted by yoink at 4:57 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's also the part where very often the "good things" are absolutely the bare minimum of what a romantic partner deserves and anyone who thinks those threadbare things are "good" is in a very bad place.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:59 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you:

1) Are under 30
2) Have no kids
3) Have no joint financial responsibilities that could potentially lead to bankruptcy if mismanaged
4) Have no severe disabilities or debilitating medical conditions
5) Has been on a relationship for less than 5 years

And you're NOT SHIT FUCKING INSANELY HAPPY about your current relationship, the answer is ALWAYS DTMFA.
posted by falameufilho at 6:12 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Relevant.
posted by falameufilho at 8:03 PM on February 9, 2012


"If you:"

I think by "you", you meant "I".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:06 AM on February 10, 2012


My main objection in relationship questions is when well-meaning people recommend couples counseling for abusive /manipulative relationship situations. It's really not usually a good idea - at the VERY least without individual counseling on both sides.
posted by Pax at 7:26 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Pax, that tends to bother me too. It is coming from a good place but it can be harmful advice.


There's also the part where very often the "good things" are absolutely the bare minimum of what a romantic partner deserves and anyone who thinks those threadbare things are "good" is in a very bad place.

Yeah, sometimes the follow-ups are like "but s/he is really great, and hasn't pooped in the shower for weeks!"
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:32 AM on February 10, 2012


Hasn't pooped in the shower in weeks is better than, "When I said poops in the shower, what I meant was sometimes the bathroom doesn't smell great because I leave wet towels to mildew on the floor. Everything's really super great and I see the error of my ways."

Or something is posted by or from the bad SO saying, "Well now I realize shower pooping is wrong but I never did it and anyway we have lots of shower-cleaning chemical" and the OP is like "See! Yay!"

Those kill me.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:21 AM on February 10, 2012


What I do know is that the truth of the situation in a relationship is deeply difficult to ascertain.

What I know is that the objective "truth" of the relationship doesn't matter one whit.

People are experiencing what they're experiencing. That is the reality they must live with, and that is the reality that we're giving advice in.

If someone comes to AskMe as says "I'm trying to figure out what's going through my partner's head" then okay, sure, take some guesses. But if they come and say "this is how it is for me, what should I do" then a bunch of second guessing about the "real" relationship is counter-productive and more importantly is not answering the question.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:47 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"What I know is that the objective 'truth' of the relationship doesn't matter one whit."

Of course it matters. But that's not what you meant to say. What you meant to say was that answerers on AskMe have only the information available to them with which to answer the question—what the asker provides.

"People are experiencing what they're experiencing. That is the reality they must live with, and that is the reality that we're giving advice in."

And that's certainly a valid approach to answering these questions. It would require that answerers not second-guess askers, suggest the asker is confused or self-deluded, and similar. It would also require that answerers not project their own experiences onto the situation the asker describes.

Again, that's a valid and arguably a pretty good way to approach these questions.

However, a lot of people don't share your view. This is proven by this entire discussion, which is all about getting at a truth that the askers don't themselves recognize. It was to those kinds of answerers that my comments were directed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2012


Yeah, sometimes the follow-ups are like "but s/he is really great, and hasn't pooped in the shower for weeks!"

Not that there is . . . Nope, can't do it.
posted by Mitheral at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


People are experiencing what they're experiencing. That is the reality they must live with, and that is the reality that we're giving advice in.

Well, yes, if you're a solipsist. Can you imagine there's a therapist in the world who thinks like this (or, at least, a halfway competent one)? "Whatever my client initially complains about is obviously the One and Only Possible Truth about the situation and there's absolutely no point in getting them to reflect upon their narrative in any way whatsoever."

Again, this isn't abstract theorizing. I know couples--lots of couples--who have been through phases of being willing to say that most horrible things about their partners, and who have ended up having loving and supportive relationships. I've lived long enough to know that whn a friend tells you "I can't stand my SO, s/he's such a bastard" the high-school "let's break out the ice-cream and share stories about how much we've both always hated your SO" response often just sets you up for the uber-awkward "Oh, no, it was nothing, I was just having a shitty day and I was taking it all out on him/her--but I never knew you had so many problems with him/her!" conversation a few days later. And no, those aren't always lame excuses desperately trying to patch over real problems. Sometimes your friend is just depressed and in their depression they're externalizing and projecting a lot of their own crap onto their partner. And again, no, it isn't helpful in such cases to simply mirror back to them their own subjective take.

I'm not saying that if someone says "my boyfriend is hitting me" we say "really? Are you sure that's true?" Nor am I saying that one should be openly skeptical about the account the Asker gives. I'm simply suggesting that it's not a very helpful response to just mirror back to them the implied negativity of their initial account--however much it feels like you're being a supportive internet best-friend when you do so. What is helpful is to try to help them understand their own feelings, to help them sort through why they feel the way they do currently. Taking sides like the audience at the Roman gladiator competitions and turning your thumbs down on the relationship ("Finish Him!") is decidedly not helpful. It's closing off reflection rather than prompting it.

And you're NOT SHIT FUCKING INSANELY HAPPY about your current relationship, the answer is ALWAYS DTMFA.

God, I hope you're still in high school. That's not, in fact, the way real people's relationships work and it's an all but surefire recipe for a lot of unhappiness.
posted by yoink at 1:25 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I've lived long enough to know that whn a friend tells you 'I can't stand my SO, s/he's such a bastard' the high-school 'let's break out the ice-cream and share stories about how much we've both always hated your SO' response often just sets you up..."

I've always thought it was strange, funny, and a bit sad how many people I've known don't know to keep their mouths shut (or, if opened, be vague) when someone (friend, relative) complains about their SO, either when they're still together or when they've split. Basically nothing good can come from agreeing that the person is/was a horrible jerk. Or, worse, that you never liked them but didn't say so until now. That's just asking for trouble.

I was just thinking that the exception might be a current SO affirming something negative about one's unliked ex-SO. That could still cause trouble, though.

The clearest example of this is with in-laws (or equivalent). Even when a SO has/had a clearly abusive parent about which they're extremely hurt and angry, one best tread carefully. And that's possibly the least risky case. Otherwise, the best answer to "my mother is such a bitch" is a noncomittal "hmm" while listening attentively.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:40 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whatever. Youth is wasted on the young.
posted by falameufilho at 12:23 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really enjoy the diversity of responses and personal reflections in relationship askmes. People often answer from their hearts.

(Just thought I'd chip in some positivity.)
posted by ead at 10:58 PM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Time for a muppet news flash. This just in: DTMFA is not always the answer, but it is the only answer in this case.

Tell me it's not. Go on.
posted by likeso at 7:03 AM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the stinky junk case, breaking up may not be enough. We should all chip in and send the OP a lovely, sweet-smelling valentine.

For some reason, in my head, the opposite of a stinky junk partner is a loving, wholesome, crouton-petter. (The "there, there, little crouton, don't you fret" type.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:53 PM on February 14, 2012


I came to realise long ago that there are certain, over-used stock answers on AskMe - "DTMFA" and "therapy!" among them. If that's your answer to how someone should deal with a relationship problem, that's fine. I prefer the answers that explain why, sure, or offer insight... and sometimes I think it's just not the answer I agree with, but different strokes/varying mileage, etc.

But... yes, it bothers me when those answers are given out of context - when a person is not asking about a problem they have with their relationship, when people think they "see" something that isn't explicitly named, when people just don't really have any other answer but just want to chime in/pile-on. A lot of that, I think, is how the questions are framed, worded, or presented - the information conveyed, the tone implied, that sort of thing -- in addition to the fact that generally, if you have to ask, you already know the answer is "yes" whether you want to admit it or acknowledge it yet. But sometimes it's just answerers reflecting on their own experiences and it's a knee jerk reaction which, for various reasons, isn't applicable. Sometimes it's just "I had a bad day, dammit." And sometimes it's just what someone really believes is the course the asker should take. That's par for the course pretty much anywhere you ask a person their opinion, methinks. I think the value of the rather thoughtful answers outweigh the annoyance of the stock answers, (particularly when they're essentially saying the same thing.)
posted by sm1tten at 4:24 PM on February 15, 2012


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