A long time ago, before there was Internet, people with problems would seek counsel from designated advice professionals. They would do this by writing to a newspaper or magazine column such as “Dear Abby.”
But nowadays, you don’t have to be an expert with a team of editors to dish out advice to strangers — and if you’re the one seeking advice, your question doesn’t even have to be particularly good. Thanks to the wonders of Reddit, all you need is access to a computer and the ability to type.
Incredibly, many people are taking advantage of this by seeking counsel from a subreddit entitled Relationships. It seems pretty dicey — redditors, after all, are the people who brought us revenge porn, neckbeards and some of the foulest “inside jokes” you’ll ever come across.
Surprisingly, though, a lot of the advice is solid — break up with your abusive boyfriend, stop snooping through other people’s phones, have a serious chat with your lying girlfriend. The best advice is of the “shit or get off the pot” variety, wherein redditors are prodding the advice-seekers to take the action that they know is necessary, deep down.
Also, every single question — no matter how obvious — gets at least a few answers from supportive redditors. In the days of traditional advice columns, only the most compelling (read: truly batshit) requests would be picked for publication.
So the good news is that no matter what you’re going through, a whole bunch of people are lurking on r/relationships, eager to tell you which way to go. And if you’re just a curious bystander, you’ll get an interesting look at just how much the advice-seekers are able to rationalize the actions of their errant partners, family members and coworkers.
The only problem is that you might have a hard time looking away. Here’s a list of the juiciest threads we found on r/relationships:
• A woman can’t stop snooping through her boyfriend’s phone and wants to know how to stop.
• This guy’s girlfriend lied to him about taking birth control for months and he didn’t dump her yet!
• An extended humblebrag from someone who feels bad that she got hit on by a guy her fat friend liked. It’s totally not her fault she’s popular. Redditors actually give some pretty terrible advice in this case; they say she should tell her friend to consider a little something called not being fat. This sounds like a great way to ruin a friendship.
• A young man who has apparently never met an old person before needs advice on how to “deal with” his girlfriend’s racist grandmother.
• This girl’s psychotic ex-boyfriend is obsessively Googling her name and usernames on the off chance that he might find a porn video of her. Redditors correctly diagnose this as stalker-ish behavior and tell her to stop all contact with him.
• Someone has a coworker who’s either a drug addict or just a shithead, and she needs advice on how to make her bosses understand he’s a liability.
• A woman’s boyfriend has been engaging in shady texting practices throughout their entire relationship. This culminated in him lying in a hospital bed and inviting another girl to come visit him and give him “back massages” while his girlfriend was at work. Redditors recognize that the boyfriend has gaslit her into believing she’s just being paranoid. They counsel her to drop him.
• This guy wants to dump his girlfriend for becoming vegan. No one blames him.
• Five years into their relationship and three months into their marriage, a woman confesses to her husband that she cheated on him when they started dating. She calls it rape, then backtracks. Also, she’s not pregnant… But she’s not necessarily not pregnant. Oof. The Reddit consensus is that he should run.
• A 19-year-old finds out her 20-year-old friend is in love with her dad after peeping at her secret online journal. She tries to set them up and the dad, thankfully, declines to bed his daughter’s best friend. It seems kind of fake.
• A 23-year-old woman is out for a post-dinner walk with her 45-year-old boyfriend. They go on these walks often. He pauses to take a shit on the side of the road often. This is because he has a hard time planning his potty schedule. The girlfriend accepts this.
She notices an unleashed dog nearby and notifies her boyfriend. He finishes pooping and becomes disgruntled. Later, on the way home, he belittles and screams at her. She wonders if she did something wrong. Thankfully, the people of Reddit correctly identify the boyfriend as an abusive asshole and advise her to dump him.
But he used to be nice, the original poster protests. One redditor explains the gradual onset of emotional abuse thusly: “If you stick a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out right away. If you stick a frog in a pot of water and slowly bring it to a boil then it won’t.” Case closed.
• This one seems fake, but it’s still interesting because of Reddit’s reaction. A woman is hanging out with her boyfriend when he abruptly pulls a dirty sock and a dirty thong out of her sister‘s dirty laundry hamper. He then starts “acting weird” and goes into the bathroom. The girlfriend opens the door of the bathroom and finds he is “rubbing [her] sister’s panties on his penis while smelling and kissing her dirty sock.” The girlfriend is unsure of what action to take.
The veracity of this post, while dubious, is irrelevant. What’s really troubling is what the commenters say. Most of them feel it would be okay if the boyfriend had saved the thong for later rather than going to the bathroom right then. Alternatively, as one says, “I would understand if it was YOUR underwear, but your sister’s?”
Is this a polite thing now, stealing other people’s dirty underwear and pocketing it so you can rub it on your genitals later in the day? If so, can we somehow make this not be a thing anymore? Because that’s weird, guys. Even aside from the flagrant privacy invasion and perviness of it all, underwear ain’t free.