Ask J-Ro:  No Laughing Matter

Jen, I’ve been a bit down lately due to homophobic comments slipped into normal conversations with a friend. They pass them off as humorous, but it’s still quite uncomfortable to say the least. I only recently started coming out as gay but he makes me feel ashamed of my sexuality. Thoughts?

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First things first; don’t EVER feel ashamed of your sexuality. Your friend is clearly the uncomfortable one, not you. As us Limerick women say about people like that, “He’d want to go away and have a chat with himself”.

You made a seriously courageous decision to come out as gay, and your friends need to have a bit of understanding in how difficult it must have been to take the leap and tell them. In groups of friends, there tends to be a lot of mental categorising of individuals; the funny one, the mad one, the Star Wars nerd etc…and nobody likes it when the balance is upset because it shakes up preconceived notions about who people are. The reality is you’re still you, and you’re still their mate whether straight or gay.

If it’s just the one guy responsible for the homophobic comments, then he’s got his own issues that are feck-all to do with you. Not that it hurts any less to know that. Maybe he’s an out and out homophobe, or maybe you’re his first gay friend and he’s all discombobulated (Been waiting to use that word!). Or maybe he’s not secure in his own sexuality. Either way, totally HIS problem.

Whatever the reasons are behind his obviously shite attempts to disguise his discomfort with ‘jokes’, it needs to be nipped in the bud ASAP. If for no other reason than to save him from losing a hell of a lot more friends down the line if he keeps it up.

Phase 1 would obviously be to talk to him one-on-one, not in an aggressive confrontational way. Tell him you find the jokes that he makes really hurtful, and as a friend he should be aware of what it took for you to come out, and hearing stuff like that won’t help ANYONE who’s thinking about doing the same. If he’s your true friend, chances are he’ll be thoroughly ashamed and won’t have realised he was hurting you. Then he’ll hopefully beg your forgiveness and find another source of ‘comedic’ material. If, however, he gets defensive and says things like “too sensitive” and “only a joke” etc, it means you’ve hit a nerve and he doesn’t like being called to his account for his behaviour. In which case you can move swiftly to Phase 2.

For Phase 2; I would suggest a subtle push of reverse peer-pressure. Have a chat with one or two other mutual mates in your group whom you consider to be loving, supportive friends to you. Let them know that what he’s saying is not funny to you, and is really hurting your feelings. If he’s saying these things in a group, and nobody is calling him out on it, they are complicit in his actions. So a simple request for others to call him out on his crappy homophobic comments – or, worse yet for him, not laugh or find it funny – could be the kick into the Personality Hole this fella needs. No harm for him to know what it’s like to feel real shame.

If he persists in being an insensitive gowl-bag after all that, feel free to tell him go fuck himself. There’s a whole world out there waiting for you to live a fantastic authentic life. Hop to it!

Best of Luck <3

Ask J-Ro: A Platonic Dilemma

Jen,I’ve been very attracted to a friend for years. In the early part, my marriage was falling apart but now it’s been over for five years. I’ve admitted to her directly a few years ago how I felt but she didn’t respond how I’d hoped. I’m afraid if I say something again it will ruin our friendship.

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Sorry to hear about the end of your marriage; it’s not easy to call an end to a union you believed would be permanent. However, you’re living proof that there is still good times and great connections to be made if you do become separated / divorced, so give yourself credit for wanting to get back in the game!

I can only imagine how painful & complicated a process it was to get to where you are now, and the fact that it’s been five years tells me that the feelings for your friend seem to be more than just a rebound straight out of your marriage. I think in a case like this though, there’s a few factors at play here. I don’t know if you told her about how you felt while you were maybe still in the middle of the messiness of ending the marriage, or if you were free and totally single at the time. If it’s the former, I think she was probably right to knock you back because you might not have been in the best mindframe to launch into a relationship, especially with a friend, because the consequences would have been disastrous.

It’s a tough one. She sounds like a fantastic person who was there for you during one of the most stressful & emotionally demanding times anyone can experience, and the value of that should never be underestimated. She’s obviously aware of your feelings from before, and the fact that a few years have passed tells me that she’s probably happy with things as they are right now.

It can’t have been easy for her to turn down a friend who was openly hurting and just getting back into dating, so I imagine it was a decision she didn’t make lightly. The last thing she would have wanted to do was add to your hurt, so the fact that she did knock you back may mean that she really was happy being your friend, and that was enough for her. You guys are still very close by the sound of things, so it seems she may have made the right call.

It’s been a few years since you ended the marriage. Have a think about where you are relationship-wise. Have you been dating since the marriage ended? Anyone serious? Have you met new people or socialised differently to how you would have done before? If you’ve been out & about expanding your horizons, and you still have strong feelings for your friend, then maybe it’s worth testing the water, but in a subtle way. Pick a friend who knows you both well and can be honest with you on the QT about whether they think it’s worth the risk. In the end, only YOU will truly know in your gut whether your friendship is open & honest enough to not be ruined by a second overture. But tread very carefully, because this sounds like a friendship worth keeping.

Whatever else you do, be kind to yourself. Don’t put yourself in a position where you may be rejected outright again. Nurture what you have right now, and if there’s something more there, a natural dynamic will take over. Relax and be happy you know someone like her, she sounds like good people. But, whatever else you do – DON’T DO OR SAY ANYTHING IF YOU’RE DRUNK.

Best of Luck!

Ask J-Ro: Naughty Narcotics

What drugs should I take when I’m interrailing around Europe this summer? My boyf says yokes are good and they seem fairly safe bit he’s done coke and a lot of other stuff too.

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DUUUUUUDE! Interrailing? Europe? Drugs?? You guys are a Hostel sequel waiting to happen. I couldn’t have that kind of thing on my conscience. These are the days of the internet – the Mammy brigade would have my guts for garters on their very own “Lock Up J-Ro” page. If you want to come back from Europe in one piece I suggest you get your story straight with The Good Lord before you leave, because only the fun-loving carefree experimental young people get massacred to shit in those torture-porn box sets. Bring a Bible, only drink water and Barry’s tea, and catch a mass once a week to ensure survival.

But seriously, folks. I’m a non-drug taker myself, thus I have very little experience first-hand with them. So my first instinct is to tell you stay the hell away from them, just as a personal safety measure, particularly if you’re heading out to strange parts.

However, having chatted with mates who dabble recreationally, the general consensus is if you’re hell-bent on trying some stuff; be very careful and super-aware of the workings of your own body & mind – drugs hit everyone in different ways. It’s down to your own tolerance and brain chemistry. Personally, if I even got a sniff of an A-Class drug I’d end up coming around in a daze in a corner of a cell, wild-eyed with half my clothes missing, clutching onto a bloodied scalp and singing “Sesame Street” to a face I’d drawn on the wall. But that’s just me.

Whatever you choose to do, CHECK THE LAWS in every country you visit, just to be aware of the differences in penalties lest you get caught. I’ve heard things about Greek prisons that I can never repeat here.

For ACTUAL, honest, far more informed advice on the drugs themselves; Talk To Frank is a great site to visit. Hop over there for a look. And tell that experimental boyfriend of yours to take it handy and MIND YOU, whatever else he does. It’s not going to be much fun if you’re playing nursemaid in the middle of Zagreb while he’s tripping balls.

Now that I’ve lectured the arse off you, have a ball! If you’re the writing type; try and document as much as you can on your trip – there’ll be so much mad stuff going on and people to meet that you’ll only believe it happened if you go back and read it. TRUST ME.

Bon Voyage!

Ask J-Ro: A Nuptial No-No

I am head over heels about this guy and he is mad about me too, but he’s married!! What do I do, am I mad to pursue it?

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pic by Ken Coleman

You’re not mad, but you will be very, very unhappy. No good will come of this. But you’re smart, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s not a good idea to hook up with a married man. So let’s step away from the moral quandary for a minute and look at the practical aspects.

Brutal truth: If he was as mad about you as he says, he would not be with his wife. Or at the very least he would be a stand-up man and not let anything happen with you until he has been honest with his wife (and kids if he has any) and started making arrangements to separate and sort out places to live, financial arrangements, custody agreements if needed, and a million other heartbreaking world-shattering things he would have to do out of respect for everybody involved, including you. Is he willing to do that? Because that’s what it would take for you guys as a couple to have any kind of chance out in the open.

Next thing you need to ask yourself: Is his time more valuable than yours? Because if you guys DO go down the road of getting involved while he’s still married, then the answer to that question is going to be yes, unfortunately. You’re the one who’ll be second fiddle to everything organised, lest his plans are uncovered and you both get found out. Fuck that. You’re NOBODY’S lesser priority.

Ultimately you want someone in your life with integrity, and who puts you first. You’re not just a distraction for a man looking to alleviate some boredom in a marriage that, let’s face it, could be getting a lot more attention on his part and thus be far more rewarding.

Nothing wrong with thinking a married friend is hot, and there may even be a bit of chemistry, but write it off as human & evolutionary responses and look forward to the real thing that isn’t hindered by life-long vows of faithfulness to someone else 🙂

PS: If they did it WITH you, they’ll do it TO you. You’ll never have a moment’s peace or trust ever again. Not worth it really is it?

Lastly; what would you tell a friend who came to you with this?

BEST OF LUCK! <3

Ask J-Ro: When To Quit

Hi Jen! I was just wondering is there a limit to how many times one can ask the same boy out and get rejected each time? I have asked the same boy for caffeine or alcohol based beverages three times and each time he has essentially declined. From a fellow height challenged beour. XXX

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pic by Ken Coleman

Hello Fellow Petite! This one hits fairly close to home, so this advice is as much for me as it is for you, so we’re in this together. I’m going to be brutally honest here – stop in the name of sanity. Once was enough. I speak as someone who has been there, done that, and ruined the friendship. You’re verging into self-harm territory if you go back there again.

If you think he’s giving you signals that he wants more, he’s more than likely just enjoying the flirty banter with someone safe; and who is safer to flirt with than somebody who has asked you out? Doesn’t mean it’s right though, but it does happen. Ego is a bit of a bastard really.

On the plus side, after three times getting flat-out rejected, you now know there is nothing you can possibly do to make him like you that way. So let that lighten the load. He’s just a guy. A nice guy, I’m sure…but just a guy. You got on in the world fabulously before you ever knew he existed, and you’ll live a fantastic life from now on after knowing him too.

Make some headspace for someone to try asking YOU out. You’ve done your bit for forward-thinking women and equality in the dating world by now. Let the fellas shit themselves for once. The ones who DO fancy you will get shit done!

Best of Luck! I’m off to get this entire message tattooed on my own forehead… 🙂