trust my gut advice by brittney pugh

Trust My Gut: Volume 1

Advice on Ghosting, Asking for Accommodations, and an Inconsiderate Partner

I like to imagine that Ann Landers and Dear Abby were fully functioning adult women. The type of person who knew pie recipes without even having to glance at the cards. I think about them as adults who never paid a late fee for their electric bill because they forgot about it or never moved back in with their parents in their 30’s because they had the mythical nest egg to fall back on if an emergency ever arose. Which it wouldn’t, because they had contingency plans for that. In my mind, they certainly never drove on a suspended license for years because they would definitely know better than, say, some idiot person who thought that speeding tickets were mere suggestions. On the other hand, there is me. The idiot person. I have done absolutely everything wrong, proven to myself and others that my natural instincts are “garbage rat”, and have managed to fully muck up life. Only recently have I even begun to take responsibility for myself, so it will be fun to learn to be functional together.

While I agree it doesn’t seem natural to ask life advice from a 37 year old single woman with no children, an online shopping addiction and unmedicated ADHD; they say that those who cannot do, teach and those who will not take advice, give it freely, so. I am here to serve. Who better to tell you what to do than someone who has done everything already, to catastrophic consequences? Also, the other broads are dead so I’m kind of your only choice.

Trust my gut.

This piece is sponsored by Jennifer Hayward whose generous gift on Kickstarter directly supported this creator.

Dear Brittney,

A person who ghosted me after an intense few months of “talking” has suddenly resurfaced like no time has passed. What should I do?

Dear Ghosted,

This sucks a lot; I am sorry. I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that they aren’t acknowledging the passage of time and have resumed communication like nothing happened. Are they Rip Van Winkle or a sociopath? I am not sure of your feelings or desire for this person, but I am guessing since you wrote in, there have to be some. I will give it to you straight- the only Ghost I am into is 1990’s American romantic fantasy thriller film starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

You can pick up right where you left off and not ask any questions and not be confrontational in the slightest and you can get your feel goods from them (not shaming you, the feel goods FEEL GOOD and we all want those!) and things will keep on. Maybe you get a few months or maybe you get past the talking stage, but someone who is willing to treat you this way with no communication before and no accountability after has only surfaced to get their feel goods from you while they can.

Permanent people don’t make cursory decisions. Someone who cares about you will think about you. Someone who cares about you will show up, not just when they have something to gain from it. Someone who cares about you would have taken the 3 seconds to send you a text or an email or a letter or a fucking sky banner to let you know they were going to be out of touch. That is the bare minimum we should expect for ourselves, right? Knowing if our SO/Interest is alive or not? I think so.

Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I have wasted so much time writing backstories for lost loves, alibis for people who stole my heart, obituaries for the presumed dead and none of them honored the truth, the reality that their disappearance was the answer. They showed me clearly that I was not cared for in the way that I hoped to be, cared for at all.
I will wrap up with this. In the past year, I have reframed how I look at romantic interests. When someone says something unkind, when they disappear, when they push clear and defined boundaries, I now ask myself “Would I let someone treat my best friend this way?” In every instance, the answer has been no. I don’t know if my age has made me more wary, or too tired to save anyone but myself anymore, but this works for me. I won’t stick around any longer to watch the flames die out, let’s leave when we see the first spark.

Dear Brittney,

How do I tell my friends that I need physical accommodations when we go to places? I feel like they don’t see me or my needs and I don’t know what to do.

Dear Uncomfortable,

This is such a big deal. (Not a fat joke) As fabulous and loving as our straight sized friends and family are, there is still a huge (not a fat joke) gap in accessibility knowledge and consideration between us and them. In my personal experience, people do not instinctually consider the physical comfort of others if they have not personally had an issue with whatever particular thing themselves. If you fit in every seat you’ve ever sat in, the thought probably hasn’t crossed your mind that one of your friends might not. The vast (still not a fat joke, I swear to god) majority of us are like you and would rather suffer in silence than speak up for our comfort, but now we are ENLIGHTENED, now we are BOLD, now we HAVE AN ADVICE COLUMN AND HAVE TO TRY TO BE A FUNCTIONING PERSON.

I don’t know about you, but I like to rehearse scenarios in my mind prior to interacting in real life. I have written some options below for you to try, depending on your comfort level:

“I would love to see you and grab dinner. The seating at the place you suggested isn’t comfortable for me. I look for places that have chairs without arms/closer parking or I call in to request no high top tables/booths with the table bolted to the floor/a seating option that works for me. Here are a couple of places I feel comfortable that I have already gone to and here are some places I haven’t been to yet but have scoped out online. Would any of these work?”

“A get together sounds great, would you mind if I picked the spot? The last place we went to was fun but I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t focus on our conversation. I would rather be able to be in the moment with you.”

“I’m so glad we could meet up! The last place we hung out at I felt uncomfortable because of seating/parking/ease of access. Thanks for letting me pick the place.”

I am not sure of your particular needs, but these can be reworked for most any situation or location. I definitely encourage you to take the bull by the horns in these situations, since you know the best out of everyone what would work for you. I also had to really work to get over how uncomfortable I first felt asking for help, how worried I was that I was aggravating everyone by needing special treatment, how much I disliked people staring at me getting said special treatment in public. I had to get over it. We have to be our own advocates!  I will be real and say of course I’ve still had crying jags at the theater when I didn’t scope it out beforehand and had to be moved to special seating because I couldn’t fit in the fold down seats with my family. I’ve absolutely sat in the car (for hours) because I couldn’t go on the walking tour or stayed home alone because I knew the place everyone wanted to go wasn’t accessible to me.

I decided a couple of years ago that I had been missing out on too much life and that the only way I could change it was to clearly express my needs, explain my mobility and my limitations so that I could participate the way I wanted to with my friends and family. Things have been so much better since I began letting people know in advance what I need in order to be part of the group. For years, every time I would visit my best friend at her downtown apartment, she would meet me outside and take my car to go street park, knowing I couldn’t walk blocks back to her place. Every night when I left, she would head out and bring my car around while I waited outside. She did this in all weather and never once made me feel badly, never made me beg for the help. When I asked her, she said it was a given like finding a restaurant that had a gluten free menu for her family or going out with people who needed VIP back entrances to places. (Yes, she is very cool) When she and her husband moved into their home this year, the first thing she told me about it was that it had a driveway with easy access for me! I hope you receive the same love and support that I did when I talked to my family and friends. I am confident that there are plenty of people out there who are willing to walk a couple of blocks in the rain for you.

Dear Brittney,

A cis guy that I have regular sex with always talks about other women when we are together. I want to tell him that it makes me feel bad, but I am afraid. How do I tell him?

Dear Feeling Bad,

Give me his address and I will send him an anonymous potato. There is a guy on tiktok who you can pay to make a phone call for you, or if you’ll allow, I will write his Mother a letter and ask her to come gather her son.

I will never understand this behavior, men are truly blessed to have been raised to think that everyone wants to hear all of their thoughts and feelings all of the time and that every one of them is valid and worthy of being heard. Meanwhile, I was taught to tiptoe around the feelings of others my entire life, making sure that I don’t do anything that would make anyone feel badly-even about their own behavior. His confidence! I wish we could bottle that.

I know for a fact I would have swallowed this in the moment and waited till later to check the instagrams of these women, trying to see if he was liking or commenting on their recent photos so I could compare myself to them. I would wonder if I had something special that made him talk about me when he was privately with someone else? Maybe I would occasionally bring it up to him in a moment of intimacy but in a real cool girl way like it didn’t bother me to know that he was thinking of other people when we were together.

I’m not sure of the specifics of your arrangement—if you hope to be in a relationship one day or if you are good with what you have going—but my personal specialty is emotionally assuming that I know everything that’s going on, so here we go. I think that any person worth their salt would apologize for making you uncomfortable and would refrain from bringing it up again should you decide to mention it. I would bring it up in the moment—so maybe we should take the sane route and start off with it at your next hang?

“Hey-I noticed while filling out your weekly performance reviews that you have accrued several deductions for mentioning other women during our time together. Is there anything we can do to improve those scores?”

(Actually I just ran that by my therapist and she said I was using humor to deflect again and suggested being straightforward with someone as the best option)

Okay, so what do we have to lose? Maybe you like the sex and don’t want to rock the boat, I get that. Maybe you like him and are hoping it leads somewhere? Also super understandable. Regardless, do you want to fuck a guy who knowingly would treat you in a way that makes you sad? I don’t want that for you! What if we try something like “Sometimes when we are together, you mention other women. I know we are not exclusive, but it feels inconsiderate to discuss other people within our little bubble. Is that cool with you?”

I think you can definitely take it from there depending on his reaction. You’ll be able to tell right away if it’s something that will feel good enough to continue with or something you need to walk away from.

Just in case you need to walk away.

Thank you to everyone who reached out for advice! To see your question possibly answered in our next issue, please write to:

Brittney Pugh hasn’t been published since 2009, but her Mom framed all her old articles and she is pretty confident that she hasn’t lost her mojo. If she isn’t writing poetry in her Notes App or practicing self care (read: avoiding house work), she is probably hanging out with her family. How else would you expect her to have the inspiration to generate content? She legitimately googled “hire a bot to write a bio”, found nothing, so this will very likely remain-as she ever is-a work in progress.