The Matters w/ Matt: Thankful For The Empty House

Every Wednesday: I never fail to be disgusted with advice columns. I am unsure why they still get paid to do what they do. As always, I am in awe when it comes to awful examples like Dear Prudence and Dear Abby. The columnists seem to get rewarded for giving you bad advice. I think that people get terrible advice from them. I don’t blame anyone that calls advice column responses garbage. I use my postings to correct these responses and help society by being an utmost asshole, (as always, a hat tip to Aaron Clarey at Asshole Consulting).

Consider this piece from Carolyn Hax’s column (courtesy of Washington Post) from January 9, 2022:

Dear (Matters):

My in-laws have a second home, which they have always encouraged my husband and me to use “even when we’re not there, just to get away and have a holiday with each other.” We’ve never taken them up on the solo offer before, but this year my husband and I really needed a place to recharge our batteries, alone. In addition to the awful covid year everyone had, I had two miscarriages and lost my sister in a car accident. So we asked, very specifically, if there was a week the house would be empty so that the two of us could use it.

We arrived today, and as we pulled into the driveway, my mother-in-law popped out of the neighbor’s house. Turns out my in-laws arranged to stay next door for the week “as a fun surprise.” Her rationale was that we were, technically, given the empty house, but this way we can still plan “some activities” together: She’s suggested dinner every night plus one other activity every day.

My husband thinks we need to suck it up and commit to at least a few meals, since my in-laws drove all this way. I feel furious, exhausted and sad. I needed to be alone this week.

Am I allowed to skip out on the family activities? Right now half of me wants to turn around and drive home.

— Need

Dear Need:

I differ from many other people in that I push people to be direct instead of “Mickey Mousing” around. Establishing boundaries for those that don’t understand your sentiments is a necessity. I have had to do this myself, blatantly telling people “no” and spelling things out to them. And yes, I had to have heart to hearts with family members.

In your circumstance, I would encourage you to tell them yourself what you explained to me. I would leave and go somewhere else. But I also would tell them that you would make it up to them, then do your best to schedule something for them when you are feeling better. (Please keep your word and not give someone lip service to make yourself feel better temporarily).

I would also encourage you to seek help or a trusted “ear”. You have shouldered much in the past and it would serve you to seek help, to grow on these challenging times. Do not let your hurt “hurt” those that love you. Sure as hell don’t let your hurt to continue to hurt you. Please do better for you and for others.

I would also warn you against telegraphing your future plans with others when you want to be alone. In many cultures, being alone can mean different things. Many people around you might not understand the need to be alone, often they want to mourn with you when bad times are around and they want to celebrate when better times come back. If you must avoid breaking someone’s “heart”, rent a cabin or a hotel room somewhere else where others don’t have to know you are there.



I don’t imagine that I will have a shortage of emails to answer. I would love to start doing this for anyone that sends me an email. If this is you; email us at

If you hate advice columns; I don’t blame you. If it isn’t soft people giving advice; it is someone trying to justify acting like an insensitive asshole. Till next week.

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4 Responses to The Matters w/ Matt: Thankful For The Empty House

  1. OMG that woman giving advice to “Need” is literally a crack pot. First of all I would have told my mother-in-law (who would never do that BTW) that I was leaving. Alone time for myself and husband means just that, alone. Need sounds intelligent enough with out the bimbo from WAPO telling her to seek help, to keep her word, do not give lip service and let others down. The plethora of stupid advice goes on. Where do they get these people. They may be educated but lack common sense. The last think that Need needed to here however is to go get help. What a witch writing answers like that to someone she does not know. This made me really angry! WOW

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: FreeMatt in Review: 1-10 to 1-14 (2022) | Mogadishu Matt

  3. audremyers says:

    I think we give up ‘advice columns’ about the time we turn 16 – you know, when we know everything!

    Liked by 1 person

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