Dublin: 11 °C Monday 20 March, 2023
# dear fifi
Getting f*cked around while dating, bad breath, shifting a mate and being noticed in a group - it's Dear Fifi
It’s dear Fifi day, everyone.


Greetings from Siem Reap in Cambodia, the home of Angkor Wat and also your dearest darling Fifi for the next few days. It’s unspeakably hot. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… Sort of, I guess. 

This can be a really challenging time of year for many people. You’re not alone. Got something you’d like to get off your chest? Get at me right here.


I slept with a friend last year but I moved away for a year. Now I’m back and they told me they had feelings for me a few months ago. I reciprocated, which was fine – we saw each other a few times. Then he bailed every time I asked if he wanted to meet up for the last month and a half but I was like OK they’re very busy between various jobs etc and there’s also a slight distance issue.

However, they do this thing where they say they MIGHT be around and would MAYBE meet me but never come through, which is more annoying than saying no. Then they finally asked me to meet them – but it was a 3am drunk message! And even though I said yes (I know) they fell asleep and didn’t answer the door which is humiliating. They apologized but I’m so tired of it. 

This person is jerking you around – and you’re letting them. Have a think and decide what you want, then ask for it and stand your ground. Ask yourself this: What about this relationship is enjoyable for you at the moment?

By that I mean, are you really interested in this person? Are you both just an idle option for one another? You don’t mention feeling one way or another about them whatsoever, just list out the drama that’s been going down. That’s not a great sign. Give yourself an honest appraisal here. Is this worth pursuing? It may not be, and that’s fine. Just don’t let it drag out in that case.

However if you decide it’s worth something, at least, then send a clear and firm message outlining how you feel. I would keep it as simple as possible – frankly, messaging you at 3am and not answering the door when you arrive is more than enough justification to send a message asking what the story is between you. Just be honest. Say you like them. Ask what is going on. Ask for honesty. Stand your ground if they try and worm out of it. Cut through their bullshit. And if they resist that, you’ve got your answer already. 

At the end of the day, if you can’t communicate with this person and they go back to wiggly half-nothings and cancelled plans, they’re not worth your mental energy or your time. Every moment you spend mooning after someone who is fundamentally giving you the runaround, you are one step further away from meeting someone genuinely nice who will treat you with respect. 

Frankly though, after that 3am bullshit, I would be running for the hills unless they grovelled and made a sincere attempt to make it up to you. I mean, the audacity.

Seeing someone at the moment but sometimes when she comes over she has bad breath, and sometimes worse. Is there a polite way to bring this up? If it’s not something someone takes care of now, will they ever? How do you meet someone without being sure about hygiene?

What do you mean “sometimes worse”? Intriguing. Anyway look, let’s break it down. 

Bad breath isn’t necessarily some moral failure. There are lots of reasons someone might have bad breath and all of us have had it at one point in our lives. You’ve got bad breath in the morning, for example. Yes, you, and everyone reading this. Bodies are gross and getting intimate with someone else’s is part of a relationship. But yes, I admit, consistent bad breath is not a good look and it’s not appealing for the early rose-tinted days of a romantic entanglement.

If this was a friend or someone else, it’d be different. But telling a woman she’s got honking breath in the early doors of a shack-up sitch is a potential grenade. Later in a relationship, you’d probably have enough built-up good will with the person to be like “go brush your teeth, you stink” in a cutesy way without it being offensive or embarrassing. 

But that’s not the case in the beginning and if it was, you wouldn’t be asking for advice. Your options here are to chew gum yourself and offer it to her. If she stays over, buy her a toothbrush as a nice little gesture so she has her own in yours. Refer to your own breath as being bad and pop a mint, to open the conversation and also offer her one. Basically, creep around the situation and attack it from behind. (This is one of the few times you’ll find me recommending this.)

If it really bothers you, figure out if it’s a deal-breaker and act accordingly.

There’s a guy friend I like and we almost shifted on a night out but circumstances intervened. He’s been acting really weird since, stand-offish and cancelling plans etc. What can I do to figure this out or at least get things back to normal when we were just friends?

To go back to just friends? I’m afraid time and space are the only option here. Any message to try and either fix or figure out the situation could have the unintended effect of pushing them further away. Don’t worry. The awkwardness will naturally pass. Just wait it out and things’ll return to normal on their own as the memory fades.

To progress the potential romance? Well, if you do really like him, then you should send him a message to that effect – but based on his skittishness so far, you may have to prepare for an answer you don’t want. That may not be worth it. However, if you really do feel strongly about him and don’t mind potentially jeopardising the friendship, it might be worth being honest. Just be aware of the risk. Let him know how you feel with no expectation in a breezy text and see what happens. Good luck.

I’ve got something to get off my chest. Whenever I find myself in some circle, I feel like I’m just “that guy who’s just there” and my presence, god forbid I sound egotistical here, isn’t acknowledged or appreciated. I want to be one of those guys that everyone likes to be around and talk to, and to ultimately be seen as a leader of sorts in friend circles. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, or if I’m just being entitled and egotistical.

Why do you want to be perceived as a leader? What about that role, nebulous in a social setting as it is, appeals to you? It might be worth investigating your own set of insecurities in that regard. There are better things in life – far, far better things – than being in charge. 

You’re confusing being likeable with being a leader. People who try and fake an authoritative position within a group tend to come off boorish and over-dominant. A better way to have your “presence acknowledged or appreciated” is to become genuinely interested in other people. Cultivate consideration. Ask people about themselves, care about the answers and then remember the details. Do that consistently and people will notice.

I truly believe that people who naturally demonstrate this kindness and people-person vibe are much more charismatic than those who hijack the group conversation to tell yet another long, loud story. Think about it. 


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