Ask Ciiku: He isn’t a good communicator

Hello Ciiku

Thanks for setting this platform to provide advice. I have a guy friend who I like very much. We both are interested in each other but haven’t taken any steps to start a relationship. However, we don’t talk or meet up as much as I would like and the main reasons are that he is not the best communicator (he has told me so) and he has a crazy schedule. We usually don’t talk unless I reach out and this sucks. From your experience, can someone truly be super busy to the point where meeting up is a real struggle? Sometimes I feel like I am trying too hard to be in his life. I don’t know what to do about this as communication is very important to me.

Miss A

Miss A,

Thank you for your comment and for reaching out.

Now to your question, what about this friend do you like? That was my first question when I read your message. How do you know that he is interested in a relationship? I am only curious because you say he is not a good communicator. Being a good communicator is about many things: What is said, why it is said, how it is said and how often things are being said.

Based on what you say, I feel like the issue is how often you chat and I am going to assume that when it is you do talk, the man communicates clearly what he wants. One thing that I am reading from the subtext is that the man has said that he is a bad communicator with no intention of working on it. So you find yourself in a situation where you will have to accept him the way he is.

I know you said that you don’t know what to do but you do, don’t you Miss A. You say it in that same sentence…… “communication is very important to me”…. you even used “very”. This pretty much tells me that this is not something you are willing to look the other way about – and that is why you haven’t taken any steps to start the relationship, isn’t it? Why should you look away anyway? I am happy that you know what it is that you seek from someone you want to be in a relationship with. And you should remain true to yourself Miss A.

All the best,
Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I need to define boundaries with my friend with benefits

Dear Ciiku,

I have a FWB who is also a very close friend. I would like to ensure that it remains that way without feelings getting caught in the process but to also not treat them poorly in order to maintain this. How do I/we build the boundaries this relationship needs?

Anon

Dear Anon,

A dilemma of the ages if ever there was one. A close friend, a sexual relationship and boundaries. Will your friendship exist after the sexual relationship ends? That’s what the boundaries are supposed to ensure? From your letter I’m reading that you don’t want this to develop into a romantic relationship, that it remains a friendship plus sex. Is it possible that feelings can be caught by one party? Yes. Is it possible that the friendship might not exist once either of you get different sexual partners (on the assumption that it is monogamous)? Probably.

I’m glad that you acknowledge that one doesn’t and shouldn’t treat a FWB poorly. A FWB is like any other relationship in the sense that communication is key. And when I say communication I mean that conversations need to happen about what is happening, what is wanted, what isn’t. From your short note I see that you are clear about what you want, something you have thought about and this must be expressed to your FWB. Relationships work when the people in it are on the same page and have the same understanding of the expectations of each other. Not when we make assumptions of what the other person must be thinking or feeling. I must stress that this is achieved through honest, open communication. Talk with your friend. Lay your cards on the table. Soon. And remain true to yourself. Always.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: How do I deal with a toxic friend?

Dear Ciiku,

So I’ve had this friend for about 10 years. I use the term ‘friend’ very loosely here, reason being she’s very toxic. We were very close in college but drifted apart soon after. We lost track but she somehow managed to find her way back into my life. Thing is: she gossips a lot. The stuff she says about other people is so horrible and sometimes made up. And no one is safe, even her own parents & siblings have been trash talked. My way of dealing with this has been to ghost: I avoid her completely (I haven’t physically seen her in years but she always reaches out by phone). I tell her absolutely nothing about my personal life so she doesn’t have material to spread. I suspect there’s a bigger problem. Some mutual friends have told me that the issue may also be mental/psychological and the more I assess her behaviour over the years the more I think there may be some truth to it. My theory is she’s become so ostracized by friends and family cz of this behavior that she feels there’s nothing to lose by being a total bitch. So my question is this, how do I communicate that I think she needs to get therapy or some kind of help without offending her and without becoming a victim of her shenanigans? I think it’s a very sensitive conversation and I don’t know how to broach it since we’re no longer close (I’d rather not meet her to have this talk). Or should I just forget trying to help and continue to avoid her like everyone does?

Regards, Remote friend

Dear Remote friend,

I think we can both agree that she is not your friend. I don’t believe that just because you have history with someone that they deserve presence in your life as they please or even to be called friend.

Also, without a professional diagnosis, there is no need to say that this person has mental issues because they exhibit the behaviour you mention in your letter. People can be and are not good, they lie and are vile. I think assigning this to a mental issue to try and explain certain behaviour stigmatises those who genuinely suffer from mental illness. I understand that people tend to assign mental issues because they want to believe in the goodness of others. We really should not.

Let me repeat that: terrible, bad people exist. It is not your job to “fix” them. What you can do, what is truly in your control in this case and for your peace of mind, is accept that this person is not someone who exhibits behaviour you would associate with a friend and remove her from your life to the extent that if others begin to talk about her, you refuse to be part of the conversation. Completely dissociate yourself. So no, I don’t think you should have any conversation with her.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: My friend drugged me

Dear Ciiku,

My friend drugged me and I found out later. How do I confront this?

Maddie

Dear Maddie,

I am so sorry that this happened to you, that someone broke your trust in such a manner. Not only did they do something illegal, but as someone you call friend, they broke boundaries of trust on which friendship relies on to function. This is terrifying.

Your question to me is very open ended because asking “how can you confront” can be viewed as follows:

  • How do I confront my friend about what they did? How do I find out what the motivation behind drugging you? Because a part of you must be wondering how your friend decided that drugging you is something that they could do.
  • How do I deal with this invasion? How do I move on and trust people again? Because a part of you must be wondering how someone you consider(ed) a friend could do this to you

When you hear of stories or people being drugged for example in the bar, most times people sleep it off and continue with life because it is something that happens and you don’t know who drugged you.

When you find out that it was someone you know drugged you, the circumstances are completely different because of course you must ask them why.

There is some clarification I would like from you before I give a concise response and if possible, let me know what you mean by confront in your instance and maybe give more details? I know it may be difficult for you but your question is very loaded and without details I fear I may not be of assistance. Thank you.

Wishing you peace,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I feel like a dial-a-friend

Dear Ciiku

I have a friend who spends some months of the year out of the country. We talk a lot and whenever she’s having a problem I try be supportive and help her out. However, I’ve noticed that whenever she’s in the country the friendship changes. We talk less and there is little if any effort to meet from her end. Efforts from my end often end up in a cancellation. It’s not uncommon for her to be silent for days and text me when she’s out of the country again. But it is more than that. Even how we talk. The best way I can put it is that I can almost feel the dial of the friendships priority moving down and up depending on where she is. It is upsetting to be so close for so long and then suddenly feel like hi-bye friends.

I am beginning to suspect we are not truly close friends, only that I can be relied on for emotional labour when most of her other friends are not around. If she does not want to be close that is fine, but I would rather not share and be as open if our friendship is not that deep. My question is how to approach this conversation. I am realising that discussion on boundaries and defining friendships has a lot less information and guides than in relationships. I don’t know how to start this conversation without it seeming like an attack. What I really want is clarity but most of things that I can point to as changing are hard to put into words.

A friend

Dear Friend,

You deserve clarity. In fact, both of you need to be on the same page regarding this situation. And yes, a conversation must be had. It seems you have accepted that the friendship may not be as you viewed it. That’s a good place to be so that the conversation doesn’t revolve around how to make it deep but rather, how to get to the same page in your friendship.

The thing is, you can’t control how she reacts to the conversation. You can use the most pacifist approach and it may still be deemed as an attack. I think what you must focus on rather is ensuring that when the conversation is had, (and it must be had), that everything you are thinking and feeling is expressed. That, in my opinion, is the crux. Since it seems that you have better communication when she isn’t in the country then I think it’s best to have it then, in whatever medium is comfortable for you.

My opinion on this is you shouldn’t preempt the conversation by issuing a “we need to talk” notice. Just dive into it during any regular conversation you are having. And ask all the questions you believe will provide you the clarity you seek…… “how do you view this friendship? How come we never meet when you are in country? What kind of friend do you need me to be? How do you see this friendship? What defines this friendship?”

Both of you must be honest with each other to figure out where you will go in the friendship. And I wish you well.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I Distrust My Friend

Hi Ciiku,

I’ve had a rough couple of months and in this period I made a friend who seemed to have come into my life at the point where I had given up on people. We have grown rather comfortable with each other, we share details of what is happening and talk at least once a day.

It has been a fun time and it’s great that he respects the boundaries we have. My issue is that with time, I still mistrust my friend, and it shows. There are days I go without talking to him, not because I want to, but because I want him to do it first- and he usually does. I have put him through tests to check his loyalty and he does not seem to know. I know it’s manipulative but I need to be shown that he cares genuinely and not just a man playing out some sick twisted long game. I guess my question would be, how do I let go of doubt and be a better friend? Is it fair to him that I do all this or am I simply protecting myself?

Savage G

Dear Savage G,

Thank you for this question and I am sorry you have had a rough couple of months. I also need to apologise for taking so long to respond to this question, I didn’t want to give you a cliché answer because I’VE BEEN HERE. Also I find when I mull over a letter, what I think becomes clearer.

I think that part of self preservation, especially based on previous experience, is that one doesn’t trust people easily. I understand why you would be doubtful of people. And sometimes the people don’t deserve it but because of some things that may have happened to you previously, you cannot trust immediately.

You are aware that you are being manipulative and I think that this is something you need to work on with your friend. You say that you share details and talk every day, I ask you, do these conversations include talking about how you feel about the friendship? Your misgivings? Previous experiences? If your friend is this friend who makes you believe in people again, then these kinds of conversations have to be part of the experience. You have to been honest enough with yourself and I think it’s only fair that you be honest with your friend.

What I believe most is that we should be having fair relationships and this is one way of achieving this.

If you’ve been reading this blog you know my stance on friendship and the heartbreak that comes from betrayal by friends is painful. That aside, there is great joy to be derived from fulfilling friendships but this comes from work and honest conversations. I implore you to have and continue to have these.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Thoughts on dating you sibling’s friend

Hey Ciiku!

I’ll get right to it. Dating your sibling’s friend who really really gets you, thoughts?

Reese

Dear Reese,

My thoughts are that two consenting adults should date if they so choose.

Now that that’s out of the way, I am curious as to the hesitation or even doubt about the situation. As though there is a rule that says you shouldn’t date your sibling’s friend. I understand that things would be awkward IF you were to break up under certain circumstances, but what if you didn’t? What if the relationship became a balm, a respite, surrounded you with love? Is that a chance you are willing to take because some random rule made by only god knows who that you shouldn’t date your siblings frje?

Ask Ciiku: Will our friendship survive?

Hi Ciiku,

I am friends with a girl and I think I’m developing feelings for her. We hang out a lot and enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t yet told her how I feel yet, but this is because I think it might ruin what we have. I am not sure my feelings are reciprocated. Should I tell her and risk our really good friendship?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

I feel like I keep repeating myself when I say this but it is also apt for your scenario…. “the greatest predictor of love is proximity.” Do you know why this is so? Once you spend time with someone, talk a lot, share etc, it seems to only make sense that the relationship should turn romantic. Why is this so? I think that it is because a romantic relationship is seen as the pinnacle, the relationship above all other relationships. Therefore if there is a person in your life who makes you feel things, it makes sense in your head that it must be romantic feelings. Is that the case with you?

A couple of scenarios : She reciprocates your feelings and then you become a couple and live happily ever after. Second, she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings and you stop being in each other’s lives due to the tension. Three, you decide not to tell her and every time she gets into a relationship you are jealous and unreasonable. Four, you decide to not tell her and realise that the feelings that you felt were really related to a platonic intimate friendship and you realise that the relationship is a deep friendship and that only.

How do you then figure out what to do? For one, spend time with yourself figuring out what exactly you feel for your friend and if indeed it turns out to be romantic feelings, then you must decide what to do about that. And if she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you have to be willing to accept that the friendship will probably not exist after. Make the right choice because the only person you can control here is you.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I have internalised fatphobia

Hi Ciiku.

I’m a fattie, and I love the work you do for body positivity. I like to think I’m body positive myself- except for *myself*. I can’t stand my body. I hate my flabs and tummy and how round my face has become. I cannot look in the mirror and call myself a beautiful person. I feel hideous. I hate that I put in so much work into unlearning beauty standards, but it never works to help me, only others. The thoughts still plague me. My relationship with food is also horrible. I feel like it is something that condemns me to fatness. At the same time, I’m a binge-eater when I’m sad, so this only worsens what I feel about myself. Most of all, I’m seeking a relationship, and I feel like I am unwantable in my fatness, and so I can only ever be in a happy relationship while thin. I have been unlearning beauty standards at least 3 years now, and most days I’m fine, but over the past 2 months or so, I have spiraled and cannot seem to get myself out. How do I channel my body positivity inwards? I feel like a ‘body posi fraud’. How to form a healthy relationship with food? I am spiraling and don’t know how to stop myself

Anon

Dear Anon,

Something you typed made me pause:  “My relationship with food is also horrible. I feel like it’s something that condemns me to fatness.” Words mean things you and “condemns me to fatness” shows me that you associate fatness with something bad, a punishment that you shouldn’t be experiencing. You say you are able to see how body positivity helps other fat people but it seems you believe that fatness is a punishment, suffering and shouldn’t be something that happens to you, you hate your body, can’t stand it. That is a lot to carry.

I am curious as to your understanding of the body positivity movement. Especially in relation to you saying that you hate your flabs and tummy and how your face has become round. I must ask, how do you use these identifiers of fatness on yourself and say you are hideous yet you say you are unlearning beauty standards? How then are you able to love it on other people if you don’t love it on yourself? Body positivity has to start from oneself, when you are able to love your self, your body, then are you able to extend that same love to others. There is beauty in every body, no matter the size and if you that is part of your value system then you are indeed body positive and if not, you aren’t. Self acceptance and self love are key to being body positive.

Some questions for you: What does loving your body look like? Why do you associate thinness with happiness? When did you first realise that you hate your body? What precipitates those thoughts? What would happen if you lost weight then you gained it back? How do you think you would deal with that? What is a good body? What type of body deserves good things?  Do you spend time with your body? Have you explored why you have such a negative association with fatness?

Internalised fatphobia manifests in different ways, in not seeing yourself as worthy – which is what you are talking about. It shows itself in seeing yourself as the good fattie because you work out, watch what you eat “unlike other fat people” and also in seeing yourself as better because you aren’t “that fat” – example being those who are size 18 seeing themselves as better than those who are say size 28. All these indicate that there is still some unlearning and unpacking that needs to be done.

Matters relating to standards of beauty are fed to us, in my opinion, before gender roles. If your whole life you have been told that your body isn’t beautiful, is a mistake that needs to be corrected through diet, exercise, surgery etc, that you are not worthy, you are lazy, you are indisciplined. If your whole life has been a series of negative association, then you are bound to internalise this and hate yourself as you hate your body. There are days when I do not like how I look, years of being fed this does that to you, but I do not hate my body, I will not hate my body, myself, if I gain weight and I have no desire to be thin. I do not think my happiness is tied to thinness or in changing my body. That has taken years of work and I think you need to work on it.

Regarding your question, some key aids that I have found to be useful are following body positive and fat acceptance people either on twitter (Simone Mariposa for one) or watching their videos, reading articles – for example those by Your Fat Friend , spending time with your body – understanding it, listening to it, touching it. Finding another coping mechanism for when you feel sad outside of binge eating can also help, something that gives you comfort. I might not be the one to help with this one since my thoughts on what “healthy relationship with food” means, what message it sends, might be seen as radical. Perhaps speaking to a counselor can be of assistance.

Finally, sometimes we think that finding someone who will love us must mean that we are worthy to be loved, no matter how they treat us.  I think seeking a relationship when you have not yet learned to love yourself or when you think you do not deserve happiness or when you carry feelings of not being wanted MAY attract people who will take advantage of how you feel. What needs to be the focus is loving yourself which in turn leads to seeking out healthy relationships.

All bodies are beautiful. All bodies are worthy. All bodies are good. This isn’t an empty platitude. It is a fact that you have to accept and begin the journey to loving your body.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: How do you know when you like someone?

Hey,

how does one know that they actually like someone and it isn’t just as a consequence of that person saying they like them. I am starting to think I may not know the difference.

Missy

Dear Missy,

I read in a book; The single greatest predictor of love is proximity. Your point stands and to be honest, it happens often. We end up being friends and lovers with people because they give us attention, we see each other often, we @ each other on social media, they say they like us ….

Things like feeling fondness and attraction for someone even when you aren’t with them and the butterflies in your stomach serve a purpose so I won’t act like they don’t. But there has to be more to it than that.

If we approach relationships, romantic or otherwise, intentionally then we, in my opinion make better decisions on who we like, don’t like, want in our circles etc. Intentional in knowing ourselves and the the kind of people we want to surround ourselves with, what values they espouse and what values we deem important, what importance they place in having you in their lives, and other related things. Liking someone because they like you is a thing as well, reciprocity is also important but beyond that, what else is there?

I’ve read some engagement stories where based on the story, women were basically coerced into relationships. There is nothing good to reading that a man pestered a woman until she relented and agreed to go out with him. This manipulation tactic is still erroneously lauded as if women can’t know who they want to date or who they like unless the person has forced them. This isn’t what we are about, right Missy?

We are about mutual like, mutual attraction, mutual respect, mutual love etc.

And you know what? Give yourself more credit…. I think you know.

Ciiku