Dear Amy: I was on my husband’s phone recently and saw that he had been watching videos featuring lots of different women: Women who were doing things like folding towels, pretending to give haircuts and sometimes just whispering. Nothing sexual, just long videos of really nothing happening.
I didn’t know what to make of it, so I asked my husband, and he told me that the videos are to trigger “ASMR,” which he described as “deep relaxation” and “tingling in the head.” He said that the soft noises and images help him go to sleep, or calm down. He said he needs them every night or he has trouble going to sleep.
After he told me this, I was honestly concerned about the whole thing; first that it was a form of addiction, and second, that he needed other women to relax him.
The whole thing feels a little bit weird. And I’m not sure if it’s healthy to become so dependent on videos made by strangers.
My husband has offered to stop watching the videos if it bothers me. He’s got no other problems that I’m aware of. He is healthy and a good husband, so I don’t want to demand anything of him, but I’m a little worried about the impact these videos will have long term on both him and our marriage.
What do you think about this?
Dear Wondering: ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which is really just a clinical-sounding (but not “officially” clinical) term for that lovely, shivery, slightly “spine tingling” feeling that humans sometimes get when stimulated by gentle sounds, whispers and soft repetitive movements – sort of the way you feel when a soft summer breeze kicks up and washes over your skin – pleasant, tingly and soothing.
Social media has helped people to describe and name the sensation, and people are also creating and sharing “triggers” to help others who want to feel this way.
The sound of sand underfoot, the pages of a book being turned, human whispers, the sound (or sight) of someone repetitively ironing or folding towels – these are all triggers that people say they use to stimulate this lovely, calming and meditative feeling.
You seem to be bothered that the videos you saw were all of women doing these repetitive tasks, and although this seems “weird” to you, it doesn’t seem to have a sexual component. There are also many videos available of men doing ASMR triggers, including calming videos from the late, great painting instructor Bob Ross (my nighttime drug of choice).
You might be able to help your husband here by personally recreating some of the triggers at home. You also might give this a try along with him, to see if you can experience this sensation, too. Otherwise, I don’t think you should worry about it.
Dear Amy: Is there a term for when a person gives another person a gift but the gift is something the gift-giver likes but the gift-receiver does not necessarily like?
For example, a family member loves cats. She has many cat decorations in her home. I’m not what you would call a cat person. I don’t dislike cats, but I also don’t really have any affinity for them. The gift-giver knows this about me. And yet, every so often the giver will give as a gift an item – usually a home decorative type item – that is cat-themed.
I don’t mind the gifts. But I think it’s an odd thing for the giver to give.
My friends and I discussed this and we wondered if there was a term for this type of gift-giver.
Dear Wondering: I just call this “Aunt Betty.”
Aunt Betty is an imaginary aunt who means well and is sweet and generous. Aunt Betty believes the adage that you should give people what you would most like to receive.
Aunt Betty might have come into your life to teach you a little lesson about looking beyond the gift and (really) seeing the giver.
However, when I shared this question with some family members, they branded “Aunt Betty” a hostile, down-sizing, re-gifting trickster.
You get to decide how to interpret this behavior.
Dear Amy: “Want to Intervene” had a desire to confront (overweight) parents about their (increasingly) overweight kids.
Your “mind your own business” philosophy is why there are so many fatties running around.
Dear Annoyed: I’d welcome hearing from people concerning whether shaming other people’s children has ever worked. I’ll run responses in future columns.
Email Amy at email@example.com.