She's Tongue-Tied In Her Head & He's About To Pop The Question

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DEAR CAT: I’m writing to you because you have a way of getting to the point and my problem is: I can’t do that. I started to write to you a bunch of times but I hesitated even though this is anonymous! You say what you think, I admire that. I say what I think I’m supposed to say. I literally battle with myself on how to answer the most stupid questions. I find it is especially bad when I talk to men. If a guy asks me, “what’s going on with you?” and I say “nothing much,” I worry about how boring that makes me sound. If I do explain what’s going on with my life, I feel like I’m saying too much. How do you put your words out there to be potentially criticized? In my head I second guess almost everything I say. I am 29 years old, how can I fix this already? — HELP STOP THE WAFFLING!

DEAR HELP: This is a published column, not a conversation, which means it’s been edited and I don’t always publish my first opinion. Second-guessing is normal and often good, while battling with yourself about answering “how are you?” is not. Where does your lack of confidence come from? Your parents? Relationships? Somehow you became convinced of your boringness and you assume that no matter what you say, it’s wrong. That’s no way to go through life! I encourage commentary because I find other people’s opinions interesting. Do you? Or are you so self-absorbed (not in the bad way, in the self-conscious way) that you don’t truly engage with others? I bet this problem is holding back your life, and pressing enough to merit a bit of therapy to get to the root of it. I appreciate your praise but few people go through life without second-guessing. Those who do….Cat’s Call: Are pretty damn uninteresting.

DEAR CAT: My girlfriend and I have been together for almost a year. She is the most amazing person in the world. I knew pretty early on that I wanted to marry her. I already bought the ring, now I have to decide when/how to propose. I was thinking about surprising her at work. Is that a good idea? And no, I have never been to her office and I do not know her coworkers. I think it should be special and make a good story later on! Your call? — ABOUT TO POP THE BIG QUESTION

DEAR POP: Congratulations! It’s lovely that you’re putting so much thought into the proposal but I’d put the kibosh on proposing at her office. You don’t know her coworkers so they can’t join in the surprise. Instead, try keeping it simple (trust me, a proposal is a great story no matter how elaborate it is). If you really want other people present, opt for a great restaurant where the maître d’ and waitstaff can be in on it. Maybe your families and friends can be waiting in the wings until after she says yes, then they can join you as a ‘surprise party.’ It’s just a thought. I wish you all the best and….Cat’s Call: I can’t wait to hear how it turned out!

What’s YOUR call? Share it below! Submit questions to: or click here!.

  1. Sorry Pop, but work is one of the last places I´d want the question popped to me!! For me, it was a huge surprise and I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I bawled my eyes out. I wouldn´t want to be crying and kissing my husband-to-be in front of my boss and the co-worker who’s on an important call, wishing I’d pipe down! Everyone’s different, but for someone private like me, a work proposal would be extremely embarrassing and would put a huge damper on the moment.
    For her sake and yours, unless you’re pretty positive that she wouldn’t feel like she’d have to stifle her emotions, please don’t do it.

    I vote for proposing when the two of you are alone. Asking someone to spend the rest of her life with you will be incredibly special, even if you don’t hire a skywriter or do something dramatic. Congrats and best wishes to both of you!

    — Clare, Pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply

  2. I know what it’s like to second guess your responses because I used to be like that until I “grew into the man I am,” is what my mother called it. I agree with you that Cat has a pleasing confidence in her advice but I will agree as well with Cat that a newspaper column cannot be compared to a face-to-face conversation. You have a clear lack of confidence that comes from your upbringing somehow. That type of tendency to second guess oneself is embedded from a young age. I did not get past my shyness until I turned 40. Certain life events push it to the back of your personality and you practically forget about it. Push yourself into situations and jobs that make you speak up and don’t tolerate waffling. Therapy works but it takes longer!

    — Shy Guy, KY    09/13/2011    Reply

  3. For both of these issues I blame the Obama administration and electric scooters.

    — Ben - VA    09/13/2011    Reply

    1. Electric, as opposed to gas powered? Why/

      — wertzro in pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply

    2. Well, thanks to Ben from VA for an unexpected laugh-out-loud moment! Really funny past reference!

      — Diane, Plum    09/19/2011    Reply

  4. @HELP,

    Me thinks you may be too worried about what other people think about you. Up until a certain point that can be okay, but after a certain point, you need to knock it off and quit worrying about it.

    If somebody asks you, “How are you doing?” The answer may depend on who is doing the asking. If the person is someone close to you, open up and tell them. If not, the standard answer will suffice, “Fine, and how are you?”

    Quit overthinking and quit worrying. Be yourself… already.


    Someplace romantic and alone would be fine. I proposed to my wife on a cruise ship, alone, in our cabin, with a bottle of champagne and the engagement ring, which she picked out while we were on the cruise. The results were great. She accepted and then it was like a bunch of Amish people putting up a barn with a big hammer and lots of nails.

    — LeBron from Pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply

    1. huh? amish people putting up a barn?

      — sue    09/13/2011    Reply

      1. Yes. Think of the Amish and when they get together to put up a barn… lots of hammering going on.

        — LeBron from Pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply

  5. Pop, if you are in Pittsburgh, you can’t go wrong with Mount Washington on a clear night, either at one of the overlooks or in one of the restaurants.

    — Duane, Pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply

  6. Pop,

    I agree with Cat, go get some counseling to help yourself gain more confidence. Confidence is very attractive in a woman. We all have insecurities but yours seem to be getting the better of you.

    — Duane, Pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply

  7. To “waffling,” this might be an anxiety thing. I understand it completely, because often I have these well-formed arguments in my head but when the moment comes, I’ll blurt out something idiotic.

    To “big question” — Dude! No!!! It will be a surprise but probably not a positive one.

    Work is no place to be making a marriage proposal. It is — or should be — a very personal thing to be shared between two people.

    To go off on a tangent, the proliferation of social media has put too many of us putting our private moments online. And computers, smart phones, Blackberries and VPN’s have blurred the line between work and our lives outside of work.

    You need to draw a line and not let the two cross over, especially when it comes to a marriage proposal.

    — Mike, Downtown    09/13/2011    Reply

  8. Waffler – you know that you need to have confidence in yourself, now consider this: if you aren’t being “the real you,” the people who like you aren’t liking you – they are liking someone who doesn’t exist – a fake person! That’s not fair to you OR them. It also might help you to remind yourself that you aren’t being judged when you speak. One person might be charmed by the same comment that might offend another. Everyone is so different. And that is why it’s important to have confidence in whatever you decide to say – and it can be different according to your mood too, and that’s okay!

    Pop – OMG do NOT propose at her workplace!!! Terrible idea. Almost anything else would be better. Romantic dinner, walk, any place that has meaning to the two of you. You should know her well enough to know if she would enjoy public or private. After that, just be sincere and speak from your heart. If you don’t know her well enough to know whether she would prefer a public or a private proposal…
    ….MY CALL: you don’t know her well enough to get married!

    — Nancy in Pittsburgh    09/13/2011    Reply


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