In the heat of the moment
Auntie Matter on love and anger
If you have questions for Auntie Matter, please submit them at tinyurl.com/AskAuntieMatter. Questions have been edited for length, clarity, and content.
Dear Auntie Matter,
I have a crush on my former tutor. She's two years older than me, though, and I know the last guy she dated was a few years older than her, so I'm worried I'm not her type. We've run into each other in a few social settings and she seems to really like me, but I'm not sure if it's as a student. What should I do?
— Hot for Teacher
Auntie Matter doesn’t have a crystal ball. Nor is she a mind-reader. She cannot tell you whether this girl likes you or not.
The one thing Auntie can tell you for sure is that you should ask her out. The costs are low — it seems as though you don’t see her that often, so in the worst possible case, you would easily be able to avoid her.
If you are concerned about the act of asking her out, never fear! Auntie Matter has a few tips.
First, be confident but casual. Do not pressure her (as in repeatedly asking even when she keeps saying no), but also don’t equivocate (as in, “I mean only if you want...it’s okay if you say no...I don’t mind”). Make it seem like it’s not a big deal to ask her out, and it’s not a big deal what her answer is — because, in the end, it’s not.
Second, be clear about what you’re talking about. Use the word “date” so that there’s no confusion about whether or not you’re asking her out. Do not say, “Do you want to hang out sometime?” or anything to that effect. That is ambiguous.
Third, look for a relatively free moment where there are few people around, but don’t wait too long for the perfect moment. There won’t be one.
Finally, good luck. And to all our readers — ask your crush out!
What are healthy ways of expressing anger that won't offend other people? I'm usually rude when angry, and I'd like to do better.
— Hulk No Smash
You want to know about “expressing anger” well. Auntie would encourage you to have a different goal: you should strive to be less angry, especially when appropriate. It seems like you are struggling with something, given the frequency and intensity of anger that your letter implies. It would probably be better for you, in dealing with whatever you are going through, to approach your life with less anger.
With that in mind, here are some thoughts on how to be less angry in general. After you have calmed down, reflect on why you were angry or what made you angry. Often, our anger is irrational, and when we realize that our anger is irrational once, we may be less angry about the same thing in the future. Anger can stem from many things, for example, from a realization that we ourselves are in the wrong; from a sense that we are owed more than we received; or from a hope that if we get angry enough, someone will solve our problem for us. If you can figure out where your anger stems from, it might grow less intense.
However, before you can be less angry overall, you need to calm down in the moment. Here are some suggestions that may help you calm your anger.
Auntie finds that a night of sleep can often calm any emotion, leaving you more prepared in the morning. Alternatively, if you know someone who is good at keeping their cool and who seems to understand anger, you might talk to them when you are angry, and they could help you calm down. You could distract yourself by watching a favorite show or looking up an interesting topic. You could exercise.
Finally, Auntie cautions you not to act in anger. The most “healthy” way of expressing anger, in Auntie’s opinion, is to manage it yourself and then address the issue you were angry about once you are calm.