Smash Your Problems With the Avocado

This week we take a look at crushing,that joyful experience that ruins everyone’s lives. If you have a question, email us at 


Is it possible to like like an internet stranger?

Questioning My Textuality
[spoiler] Dear QT,

I stand before (type before, more accurately) you today because I had a personality crush on an AVClub commenting legend back in Ye Olden Dayse of 2011. I no longer have one on him, but I’m still commenting here.

Think of it this way: what is someone’s internet identity? It’s not how they look; you don’t know that info at all, not really (let us pause to thank the lord we don’t all look like our avatars, though some of us would prefer it. And… proceed) it’s based on what they like and want to talk about, and their personality. I don’t want to snobbishly say internet crushes are actually better because they’re solely based on personality, but the science would support it. 

There are actually two issues here, neither of which is the validity of your crush. The first is that relationships have multiple components, and for some people physical chemistry is a component. That’s a little tricky for long distance online relationships sometimes, but whom amongst us has not crushed on someone, went in for a kiss after a date that felt slightly off, and immediately yelled “MISSION ABORT” before fleeing into the foggy Victorian-era London night never to be seen again. Just me? Oh, okay. Some people don’t even want a sexual component and would be golden with these circumstances. I only bring it up because you need to decide what you want out of this Choose Your Own Adventure.


To seek advice on pursuing the commenter fair, choose option B

To consider advice on managing the symptoms until they disappear, choose option A



So you’ve accidentally fallen for an online commenting buddy/coworker/person whose politics you disagree with and need to get out. Help is on the way! Only slightly helpful help, unfortunately, because the only person who can get you out of this mess is the same person who got you in it; yourself. It takes 30 days to break a habit, allegedly,and liking someone is a habit for sure. Your brain takes them into consideration, you up your A game to impress them, you conveniently schedule your commenting time where you can oh so casually run into them. The obvious solution is to give yourself time to stop that. I don’t mean a full ghost; we are a civilized people. But I suggest moving to a gentle haunting. Set yourself a goal: you used to talk for hours, start by just checking in and being too busy to stick around. The key here is to actually be busy; you want to retrain your brain to have other objectives and focuses, help keep your mind away from the subject. You will probably break down and fail a couple times during this process of gentle disentanglement. DO NOT GET discouraged. This is natural; and ideally once the crush fades you’ll  have enough distance to be able to resume a friendship anyway. Consider how long it took you to break this time, how much you got done in the meantime, how well you did. Cutting yourself off from someone you like is hard, and it suuuuucks. Read a comment of theirs and choose to upvote without spending an hour composing the perfect paragraph, until before long you see them post something and you feel no need to engage. 

I do not advocate using someone else as a distraction; but if you have someone who knows about the crush and supports your exit strategy sending them a “hey i really want to talk to this other person right now so i’m sending you a critical analysis I just wrote on pokemon shield instead” can be an option. You can even do the old-fashioned ‘write them a letter and don’t send it’ thing, but the last time I tried that I turned into like a six month stretch of intense diary writing that coincided with being in high school and upon rereading realized it was so cringe I swore off journaling entirely. 

As time goes on and that relative distance grows, you’ll have enough separation to hopefully talk yourself the rest of the way out or adjust to the new normal; a lasting fondness for a person but no desire to act on it. You can still enjoy talking to them or sharing interesting facts, but it will not hurt to do so. You will not feel that almost manic sense of excitement and hope, but the nice gentle stability of a maintained friendship or a nostalgic fondness for someone you run into in the music threads but do not seek out in the sex thread to see if they’re still single*. And then you’ll be like me, because rest assured you sure as shit are not the only person to have a crush on an internet stranger here.


*if you find yourself doing this a lot that may cross over from a “not advised” to a full yikes. There’s a difference between curiosity and obsession, and it’s def the type of thing to err on the side of caution. If you find yourself posting less about things you enjoy and only trying to engage the subject of your affections, consider taking a more serious break from the site until you can get that level of attention under control. 



Internet dating is a lot like dating a waitress you met mid-shift; complicated, fraught with peril, and a lot on them. The internet is a safe place for many to vent frustrations and discuss things with friends without a creepy guy on the subway removing your headphones. You don’t want to be that creepy guy removing headphones. And you should be concerned you don’t accidentally find yourself with a pair of headphones that aren’t yours. (in the general sense, not you specifically have been known to steal them from time to time) You want to be open and honest, without being overbearing or making them uncomfortable, so mention once you’re single and not daily, say they make you laugh and not that you wished you knew what they looked like, and admit you enjoy talking to them and not (insert any number of gross things you’ve heard as pickup lines before) Let them decide whether to come to you and be interested by going at a pace they feel comfortable with; if they aren’t opening up about their kinks don’t share yours or ask them to get into it. If there’s something there they will want to open up to you and have relaxed boundaries, they will return the sentiments of being excited to talk and coming to you at random hours because they saw something you needed to see. You are a rock that cannot move, and they are the water that will gradually change your shape over time. Continue to grow the friendship organically, legitimately be there for the person and see yourself as a friend willing to help meet their social needs, and if the feelings persist and become melodramatically unbearable a) tell me so I can proof-read your message before you send it and b) let them know respectfully that you enjoy your friendship tremendously and spending so much online time together has really made you appreciate them and like them, so that while you are more than happy to continue just a friendship and for them not to stress if it’s not mutual, if they ever need someone to flirt with you will heroically volunteer. I feel like you will naturally start whatever your version of flirting is while talking to them if the feeling is mutual, so preferably you will get a feel for if this conversation is one that needs to be had. But if after a while they withdraw and talk less without being like “i’m so busy at work right now but i miss talking to you!” then know that the conversation isn’t going to be necessary, and see option A. And if they don’t seem interested don’t take it personally; just as you weren’t expecting to start crushing on an internet stranger they can’t control how they feel about you. You can only control what you do about it. Chances are it’s not personal, so responding by being angry or lashing out is not just inappropriate but heckin weird. Women, being fellow human beings, are capable of forming opinions based on your behavior, and nothing makes our engines run out of gas quite like an unearned and unwanted sense of entitlement. This also applies to fellow men! You’re allowed to have a soft spot for them and they’re allowed to not return it. The key is to remember that on the internet even greater respect and consideration is needed than in real life, because you know so little about the struggles others are going for, and that no matter how it shakes out the kindness and genuine healthiness you displayed made their corner of the internet a little brighter place.


So yeah, internet crushes are legit. Best of luck!


Dear Ursula,

I’m considering buying a boat.


[spoiler] P.E.,

Boats are expensive; you may find yourself financially underwater!

Slightly Salty Sea Witch


I haven’t decided on next week’s guest yet, but upcoming columnists will include Count Olaf, The Cat from the Lady Yelling at Cat Meme, and the author of My Immortal. If any of them sound like the expert you need, email your question to