KSK Mailbag: Whoa, who made the backlash to Valentine’s Day backlash?

02.20.14 4 years ago 82 Comments


Last week was Valentine’s Day, and I left it alone because, even though I loathe it, I’ve reached a détente with it in my married years. I get flowers for my wife, she fulfills an undisclosed half of the bargain, and we order takeout. I don’t want the expectation of making a grand romantic gesture or taking her out to a nice dinner, because I do those things on a fairly regular basis. IT’S ONLY ROMANTIC IF IT’S NOT FORCED ON ME.

For the last several years, I’ve felt that my online circle of cynics was in agreement here: Valentine’s Day was invented by capitalistic reasons, swallowed whole by dumb people in dull relationships, and subsequently loathed by single people. I’m comfortable with that.

So I was surprised last week when I saw tweets and even articles that were like, “Oh, SORRY you’re TOO COOL to acknowledge a holiday about LOVE!” Whoa now. I get that sincerity and positivity is ultimately a better way to look at the world, but I won’t stand idly by while intelligent people embrace Valentine’s Day. Get bent, you undercover Hallmarkistas.

On to the mailbag. As always, you can email us your questions here.

Dear Caveman,
Fantasy Football first (your mailbag has been lacking on these questions since week 14): I’m in a league with one keeper and debating between DeSean or Rivers. I can keep DeSean for a 4th or Rivers for a 6th round pick. Leaning to go with DJax, but with Maclin coming back, Riley Cooper getting more touches towards the end of the year, and thinking Foles won’t repeat last year, I’m wondering what’s your opinion.

Cooper and Maclin are both free agents. While the Eagles could keep one or both — I don’t think an ACL tear and an N-bomb really enrich their value — I don’t think they should significantly impact your decision.

Emotionally, I would want to keep Jackson because I root for Cal players, I love the Eagles offense, and I don’t want to hang my fantasy season on Phil Rivers. But if I try to rule out emotion, Rivers emerges as a smarter choice. The resurgence of the Chargers’ offense — and Rivers’s numbers — wasn’t a fluke. Mike McCoy also managed to milk an awesome fantasy year out of Ryan Mathews, something that was believed to be scientifically impossible. I doubt Rivers’ numbers will dip much, if at all, next year, as they’re not losing any offensive components they can’t replace in the draft. You’re looking at keeping a top-5 fantasy QB for a sixth-rounder. As much as I hate to support Rivers here, he’s a better deal than a slight top-20 WR in the 4th round.

Shorter version: you can get another WR like Jackson in the 4th round. You’re not going to get a QB like Rivers in the 6th.

Now onto the female question: I started seeing a girl two months ago. We’re both fresh out of grad school and both work in a profession where it’s common to work 12-14 hours a day, some weekends, and just being on call at any point our employers want to ruin our nights. First month went somewhat smoothly, both seemed to be really into each other, and I was pretty happy with my situation. Then it sort of hit a dead end. Her job really picked up, I went out of town for work, she had plans already set, etc… I was generally the first person to text, gchat or reach out to her and it’s safe to say I put in more effort than she did (but her friends have told me she was/is into me). The last three times I’ve asked her out she’s had to cancel twice bc of work and once bc of her mom’s bday. Haven’t seen her in three weeks and the communication recently has definitely decreased. I guess the question is — move on or lay low for a bit and try to rekindle it in a couple weeks? I realize this is very generic, but any thoughts are appreciated.
Pats Fan Not in New England

In the delicate early stages of dating, there’s a finite number of times that you can be the one to initiate plans without the other person attempting any kind of similar effort, unless they’re really good-looking and great at sex. But when you keep reaching out and she keeps canceling? Well, that’s someone who’s either not interested or in need of lessons in communication.

Give it one last shot: “Hey, it’s been a while, but I’d still like to see you again. If you’re still interested, let me know when you’re free.”

Boom. Two sentences: you let her know where you stand, and you place the onus for the next date on her. If you don’t hear back, then you know she’s not interested and you move on. If she says something about “just being really busy with work,” you move on. Basically, if she does anything BESIDES exclaim that she likes you and wants to go out again, you move on.


Hi Matt:
Have you been enjoying the Olympics at all?

I have, for the most part. It’s been a little tough with the time difference — work keeps me on Twitter, so I know most of the results without getting the benefit of seeing them as they happen, which makes the evening telecast considerably less exciting. But my wife and I can watch and enjoy NBC’s broadcast together, which is a nice change from our usual routine of me watching “Justified” after she goes to bed or her watching the Kardashians when I leave the house. The Venn diagram of watchable TV for us has very little overlap.

Another facet: the Winter Olympics (rightly) get shit for being for white people, but they also get style points for being dangerous as shit. As Gawker’s Caity Weaver noted:

Like, even the more “artistic” events like ice skating have drama because the skaters can face-plant into ice and slide into the wall. The only thing in the Summer Olympics that even APPROACHES the danger of winter sports is equestrian, and those people deserve it for trusting horses.

Relationship: I wrote in two years ago, so I will spare the back story (I was the guy with the unhappy & unemployed girlfriend), just a quick catch up. I cherry picked your advice and things went great. She found a great new job, saw a shrink for about a year and half, and we moved in together. I thought her newfound happiness would wear off on me a little and it did.

For the past few months though I have found myself in a stage of apathy regarding the relationship. All the things that used to make me happy, I could care less about. What it boils down to is that I do not share the same sense of happiness and comfort that she feels and of course, she does not know I feel this way. Shes ready for marriage, kids in 5-6 years, etc….

I am fairly certain i should end it, but I still love her and care about her like crazy, but as you pointed out, you can never really stop loving someone you have dedicated a portion of your life to. Even as I type this I feel like I am going to vomit on my monitor. Maybe these feelings are a manifestation of my own fears, I don’t know.

It’s rare that I want MORE details in a mailbag letter, but I’m curious here. Like, it’s kind of a big step from “I no longer care about things that used to make me happy” to “we should break up” — especially considering how depressed/unhappy she was two years ago when you decided to stay with her.

I have never ended a long term relationship so I would not even know how to do it even if I chose to. Her feelings are going to be crushed and I know I am going to feel like absolute garbage for quite awhile. The only thing I can fall back on is that logistically it would be fine as I live in the same city as my folks, and i would just pay my half of rent to the landlord.

I guess I dont have a question, would just love to hear what you have to say.
Yours truly,
Sit on My Facemask

Well, you guys have been together, what? Like four years now? I think you at least owe it to her — and to your relationship — to talk to her and explore the root of your apathy. This isn’t a bombshell to be dropped, but an honest conversation to have about your feelings and your future. If you love her so damn much, work with her to repair what’s broken.

Of course, if you determine that you’d rather be single than committed to her, then you can’t stay with her just because you’ve never ended a long-term relationship and don’t want to hurt her feelings. Staying with someone you don’t love is a crueler action than breaking up with them.


Captain Canine,
I wanted to send a little followup after sending in the dog vs. potential spouse question. I followed the kommentariat’s advice and visited a couple shelters and we found ourselves a dog. Big thanks to AB for putting it best “Don’t be an asshole, get a mutt”. I attached a photo of the new addition, Willow.


She doesn’t respect anything I say and does whatever she wants, but she’s the best. Thanks for pointing out how much of a GLORY BOY I was being.

I love her. She’s perfect. (And cuter than a Lab puppy, IMO.)

Also, since you took me to task last time, I’m aware all labs are the same breed. I just wanted a black one because I’m a selfish asshole.

-Not getting consistently laid anymore because the dog takes up all our time

Hmmm. Not sure if being an asshole is better or worse than being ignorant about dog breeds. But hey: all’s well that ends in a rescued puppy.


Dear KSK,
I’ve gotten into a murky situation with my ex. I apologize for the length of this email. I’ve tried to be as brief as possible, but there is quite a bit of backstory that will paint a better picture. Here’s the as-brief-as-possible rundown of our relationship:

-We lived in different cities and met through mutual friends/hooked up one weekend over 3 years ago (I was 28, she was 23. Now 31 & 26)
-Continued to talk and got to know each other long distance while occasionally hooking up for 6+ months
-Exclusively dated long distance for almost a year, during which time I grew to think she was “the one”
-We both moved to a new city together. I was finishing grad school and had a job lined up, she was about to start a 1 year grad school program. We decided to live together since we both saw it going towards marriage, and it made sense financially with all the student loans and whatnot. I already had many friends in the area, she only knew a few people.

In case this hasn’t been made explicitly clear over the last several years of mailbags: do NOT jump from long-distance relationship to living together if you’ve never dated while living in the same city. Forget what makes sense financially; you need time to adjust to being together. Otherwise it’s like surfacing too quickly in SCUBA gear: your relationship will get the bends.

-Things gradually fell apart. There were communication issues, money issues, and widely differing expectations for the other person, from both of us.
-We broke up about 3 months ago. I initiated it because after raising my concerns, we both did nothing to address those concerns for months, and I was done being in a relationship where we couldn’t talk to each other honestly about what was bothering us. We basically ignored small issues until they grew into bigger issues that couldn’t be ignored any more. She wanted to work things out, but I wasn’t willing to, and was kind of a dick about it.
-We both moved out and got our own separate apartments after a month of awkward interactions at home and couch surfing at friends’ houses.

I’ve used this time apart to focus on work, going to the gym, and getting myself settled in my new place. Basically the start of your post-breakup plan.

That’s actually the LAST part of the post-breakup plan. The first part is breaking off all contact with your ex.

She has used this time to do the same, while also going on a ton of dates with randoms from the internet, apparently. I haven’t put myself out there yet, because I just haven’t felt ready to. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago – I went out to a party at a bar for her birthday to wish her well and see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. At this point we had minimal contact since the breakup, but had talked and she invited me out.

Hey, so here’s a link to the official Captain Caveman post-breakup plan. We all need a refresher occasionally. (Maybe bookmark it? )

As the party was winding down the two of us went to another bar and I let her say what she needed to say, thinking it would provide some closure so that we could both move on. What ended up happening is we got to talking about what we both should have done differently, got drunk, and she ended up staying at my place that night (oops). Since then we’ve hung out on two other separate occasions with same result, including once this past week and once when we were sober (oops again).

Two drunken hook-ups is normal for people who’ve broken up but still generally like and are attracted to each other. A third hookup when you’re sober is well on the way to backsliding into a relationship that you were adamant about ending.

So now I’m confused as hell about what I want. When I moved out, I didn’t think I wanted to marry her, and thought that 3 years together and 1.5 years of living together should be enough time to figure that out.

It absolutely is.

I still think it was the right decision for both of us. But she basically took this breakup as an opportunity to make changes that I had been trying to get her to make since we moved in together, and I’m seeing her as the person I fell in love with for the first time in a long time.

What were those changes? Dating other guys?

Also: the person you fell in love with lived nowhere near you. But when you lived with her, you decided you shouldn’t marry her. What do you think is a more accurate depiction of your ex? The one you loved from afar, of the one you saw every day and shared a home with?

Or at least that’s what I’m seeing through my post-relationship goggles. I’m wondering if this was a case of “right person, wrong time”, and if we were to try again now under different circumstances, knowing what went wrong, would things work out differently.

She wants to give things another shot. Part of me wants to believe that what happened between us was circumstantial, and I know that there is a lot of truth to something you said in this mailbag (minus the 80-hour work weeks part):

“Living together for the first time + not having friends in the area + you maybe not having a job + her working 80-hour weeks ≠ the ideal recipe for love”

Add in the fact that we never actually dated in the same city, only saw each other on weekend trips before living in a tiny apartment together, and never communicated expectations/pet peeves/etc to each other, and it was a recipe for disaster.


BUT, another part of me thinks that I need to be on my own for a while/see what’s out there first. She has had a chance to do that, while I haven’t attempted it yet. So I guess my question after this long winded explanation of the current state of affairs is, should I try to work things out with her? Possibly casually date, which we never gave ourselves a chance to do before moving in? Should I break off all communication and try to meet new people? Is asking for time and space to do so and make up my mind unreasonable, knowing that during that time either one of us might find someone new and start dating, effectively closing the window forever?
[I had something for this]

Maybe your ex was a “right person, wrong time” scenario. Maybe you two will end up together down the line. Maybe she really has made the changes you wanted her to make before you broke up. I can’t be sure of any of those things.

But I’m pretty sure about this: neither you nor she has had the time or space or distance from the other to make a level-headed decision. I have way too many questions about her mindset and motivations. For example: you said she wanted to work things out when you broke up with her; did she actually make changes in her life, or is that the image she’s projecting to you in order to win you back? How much of inviting you out to drinks and hooking up with you is chance, and how much of it is her executing a plan to get back together?

I’m not trying to keep you guys apart — by all means, if you two make each other happy and share a long-term vision, I want you to be together — but I think it would behoove you to pump the brakes here. Don’t think of this as “maybe the last chance to be together before the window closes.” Think of this as “your only chance to dodge an on-again, off-again relationship that wasted the best years of your life.”

Take some time to be an individual and build your own life in the city while she builds hers — separately, and without keeping in touch for a while. If you end up together down the road, great! It will make the life you make together all the more rewarding.

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