Email Question 2: Electric Boogaloo

I got another email question!  I’m totally not sure if it’s a troll email or not, but here it is, and here’s my answers.

 

Q: Okay so I’ve been great friends with this girl and she considers me as her best friend..
I fear if I’ve been friendzoned already for I have feelings for her..

She cares a lot about me..
I do care a lot about her..
The thing is I fear if I ask her out, it might spoil our friendship.
So please I need your help..
What to do?
A: First thing you do, emailer friend, is to never use the verb “friendzone” ever, EVER again.  Everything about that term implies that the only goal of being in any sort of relationship (including a friendship) with a woman is sex, and that makes you kind of a douche.
The second thing you do is go back and read this.  I think it will help.
The third thing you need to do is make a list, and on one side put all the great parts about being friends with this lady.  Do you do fun things together?  Can you talk about a ton of stuff?  Great!  Now, what’s the only thing you’re standing to gain from turning this friendship into something else?  If the only thing you can come up with is “sex”, then you need to decide if trying to get sex from this friend of yours is worth the potential spoiling of your friendship.  You also have to brace yourself for the mad amounts of awkward if that goes awry.
Please, don’t consider the only goal of being friends with a girl to eventually end up boning her.  That’s horrible and isn’t worth anyone’s time.  For real though, you don’t want to end up like that guy.  If you have genuine feelings for her you should tell her, but if all you think you want is the sex, don’t do it.
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From Dating To Friends

Hey y’all!  Hope you’re about to have a spectacular Christmas.  Or, I hope you had a swell Hanukkah.

Anyway I realized that I should check my email more often, because an intrepid young reader sent me a message with a really good question in it!  Names have been changed to protect everyone involved.

Q: “Greetings!

I read two of your posts, Survivng the Friendzone and Nice Guy Syndrom, and was wondering if you had any advice for going from Dating to just being friends. You see, I was dating this girl for almost a year, a big milestone in my eyes, and a few days ago she broke up with me, 11 days before that 1 year anniversary. She brought up some very valid points, and after a day to mull things over I was okay with it. Thing is though, im still having a few problems it seems. The problems made themselves apperant when we went to the mall to hang, as friends, and I notices a love mark on her neck. Nothing too big, just a single one, nothing near what I’d given her on multiple occasions, yet it still brought up a good bit of jealousy mixed with depression. When we talked about it, she said its what I should expect now that we were ‘just friends’. Not in a mean way though, and it was a very valid and logical point. Yet…even after that I was still jealous of this unnamed man I didnt know. Any advice on how to deal with this would be much appreciated, even if it is just that I need to get over it and accept that she’s not mine anymore.

Sincerely
Treble Hoof  (Jeffrey ********)”

 

A: First I’d like to say sorry about the breakup, but well done on handling it like a mature adult.  Validating reasoning for your former ladyfriend ending your relationship is actually a pretty big step.  Don’t forget, though, that it doesn’t count as validation unless you can actually for serious feel and mean what you’re thinking or saying about it.  And really, this part will take some time.  After you’ve for-sure come to terms with what she said, you can use those reasons to try to be a better boyfriend to the next lady who comes along.

Now, to the meat of your issue: she very obviously still means a lot to you, but she’s also apparently doing some sexytime-related things with another human being, and this can be really weird.  It can feel a little lot like she’s already found your replacement.  This isn’t always the case, though, because women are actually also prone to rebound flings with people, too.  I’m gonna guess that she is also hurting and that’s the way she’s dealing with it.  Granted, there are other possibilities that are a lot more hurtful to think about, like “What if she was cheating on me with this dude?”

Well, the good news is the cheating part is no longer your problem and you don’t need to address it with her, because your relationship is over.  The sucky part is that this could impact your friendship.  If you want to remain actually friends with her, and not nice guy “maybe we can get back together” friends, then you have to actively decide to let that possibility of her having cheated on you go.  I would caution against asking her outright about it, because if we’re all wrong and she wasn’t cheating, that’s going to make things awful and your friendship will definitely be weird.

The only way to deal with jealousy is to admit that you’re jealous, and that it bums you out.  There’s not some magic method to getting rid of it, but if this is something that seems very difficult for you, I would encourage you find a therapist or trained professional (or trusted parent/guardian) to chat with about how you’re feeling.  Since you mentioned some depression, perhaps the professional would be a better idea.  What is super important with the jealousy and sadness is that you don’t try to squish them down.  Give yourself room, preferably by not seeing her if you can, and let yourself feel sad about the end of your relationship and the possibility that she will be with other people.

One thing that might work well is asking her to give you a bit of time to do this.  It’s a pretty rough thing to do, but if you make it clear that you do want to be her friend but need time to take her out of the “girlfriend” part of your brain, I have a feeling she will be understanding.  And if she isn’t, maybe you should reconsider being friends with her in the first place.

I hope this was at least marginally helpful!  And hey everybody, I can always be reached for more personalized advice at gaygirladvice@gmail.com


Gay Family and the Holidays

This is going to be a combo rant-advice time, which I realize might frighten some of you.  Sit down, things are gonna get intense.

The holidays (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, etc.) are generally celebrated by gathering with family.  In most cases, this means biological family, which means seeing people you only see kind of rarely.

This, for me, was the first Thanksgiving where I was not living with my parents, so I got to stop by casually to see everyone.  Another fun fact: I have a staunchly conservative, Catholic grandmother who is somewhere in her eighties.  I’m not out to her.  I made the choice not to come out to her after I saw “defend marriage!” and “we hate abortion” flyers in her car a few years ago.  It just seemed like the responsible thing to do.

I have learned, over the years, how to deal with the grandma questions.  You know the type – the ones about relationships and marriage and children and crap.  For instance, my first Christmas home from college we were all in our pajamas and eating chocolate on Christmas morning, and apropos of literally nothing, my grandma turned and said, “So, do you have any special boy in your life?”  Super-amazing deflection response: “No, grandma, I’m really busy and haven’t thought about it.”

Two years later for Christmas I got a really nice box of silverware, but it had a card that was basically like, “Just in case I die before it happens, here’s your wedding present!”  Really uncomfortable; I said thanks and we’ve never talked about it.

Fast-forward to Thanksgiving 2012, greeting everybody and saying my hellos as a visiting family member.  My older brother whispers to me, “When are you gonna tell her you’re gay?”  While talking about Black Friday shopping with my grandma, I mention my “roommate” (secretly my girlfriend, for those not in the know) had to work a really stupid shift at her retail job.  Not two minutes later, my little brother went, “So… Roommate, huh?  You should just tell her.”  A little while after that, my mom felt it prudent to take me aside to remind me that my cousin had already come out, and that “grandma is totally okay with him being gay, so you could tell her.”

What does this have to do with anything advice-wise?  A couple of things, actually, that I consider pretty important.

If you have a family member who is LGBTQ and they are not out to another person, family or no, it is NOT your job to tell them they can come out.  We do not require your permission on this front.  I don’t need you to tell me when I can or cannot talk about my personal life, or in what terms, and it’s really quite condescending and paternalistic for this to happen.  If someone comes out, it is because they have given themselves the permission to do so, not because some straight person has deemed it “okay”.  If you have a queer family member, don’t you dare tell them this ever, because it’s rude.

The second issue is that people are different, and people are viewed differently by other people.  My grandma, for instance, might consider me her favorite grandchild (or maybe not, I don’t know), but the point is that she might view me in a different light than my cousin.  That being said, she might not react as well as everyone seems to think if I were to come out to her.

The third issue is that the holidays are not just about one person.  I don’t want to make a big scene and make Christmastime or Thanksgivingtime memorable to my octogenarian grandmother because that’s when she learned I’m gay.  It’s about togetherness and family and being glad we have what we have, it’s not about coming out.  Not for me.

At this point, I’m very thankful I can be out to the family members who do know.  Further, I’m thankful I can still make my own choice and that nobody has outed me (as far as I know) without my permission.

So please, take a step back and consider, if you have to, the position your non-heterosexual family members might be in.  They will come out to the people they choose, at the times they choose to do so.  Don’t be a douche and try to push them to do it any sooner than they are comfortable.


How to: Not Talk To Gay People About Sex

Do any of you have something that really just grinds your gears and gets you every time?  I happen to have a lot of them, and if I were to list them all it would require more time and dedication than I could ever hope to expect from any of you.  Consider this an act of mercy that I’m only focusing on one moderately upsetting thing for today.

I had this particular thing in mind for today, because it happened to me last night.  Sometimes being gay can really stink, and a lot of those times happen when you’re interacting with other (mostly heterosexual) people.  One of those interactions I despise is when someone decides it’s a good idea to ask The Question.  You’ve probably encountered it, either in a movie, with friends, hell – maybe you’ve even asked it yourself.  The Question is, for me, as follows: “What do 2 girls, like, DO, y’know… In bed?”

It’s almost always followed by lots of nervous giggling on the part of the asker.

There are a couple of responses that I use for this question, and the one I pick depends upon how well I know the person asking me, and how much I want them to not hate me.

In this case, I was at a bar, so I was able to be all, “I haven’t had enough tequila for this talk”, and that seemed to work pretty well.  (Other fun responses are things like, “Let’s go find out” and “Please shut your face”, but my favorite is, “Well that depends. Are we sleeping or fucking?”)
I’m not a particularly private person.  I’m loud, kind of annoying, and really obnoxious.  I’m outspoken about a great deal of things.  And yet, this one single question leaves me feeling utterly flabbergasted.  I really think this is a prime example of straight privilege, because nobody asks a straight couple what THEY do in bed, right?  Because everyone knows.  But apparently asking gay folks is not only a) super appropriate and acceptable but 2) going to give you an answer to apply to every gay person ever (because we’re all the same, duh!)

I was told that I handled the question like a champ, but I’m still really riled about it.  I also told the particular asker to check things out on the internet.  It’s a wonderful place and there are TONS and TONS and TONS (etc. etc. ad nauseum) of resources on how two ladies might get it on.  Betcha you’ll never guess what happened next.

“I FEEL DIRTY DOING THAT.”

But you feel perfectly alright asking someone you don’t know very well TO THEIR FACE about their sex life?

It would be completely different if this person were asking me about things to do to make one’s sex life more interesting.  I personally feel I have a lot of really brilliant sexytime ideas, and since I’m obnoxiously outspoken, I find very little shame in sharing them.  This, however, was a whole ‘nother scenario.

The moral of the story this week is pretty simple: don’t be an ass.  I don’t care if you’re drunk, I don’t care if you once asked a gay person in a pride parade and they answered.  I’m a different human being, and you should fucking respect that.

We’ll be back for regularly scheduled shenanigans later on.


How to: Love Yourself the Right Way

HELLOOOOOO!

I’m breaking my hiatus because my hiatus is stupid and was imposed for no reason other than I was a little bit on the lazy side.  It’s true, dear readers.  I neglected you because I was bumming around playing video games.  And, y’know, college.

For my first post back, I wanted to talk about something that’s very near and dear to me, and that I take very very seriously.  Surprisingly, it’s not sex (although that’s a close second).

I want to get into what it means to love yourself.  I don’t mean the corny self-help book style of patting yourself on the back or giving yourself affirmations daily or anything like that.  I mean this on a deeper level, because I think “loving yourself” is a very subjective act.

***TRIGGER WARNING: EATING DISORDERS, SELF-HARM AND DEPRESSION***

For me, loving myself has many meanings.  It could be treating myself to a large iced mocha on a rough day.  It could be that extra five minutes in the shower.  I may be crazy, but sometimes “loving myself” means doing another set of a lift at the gym, because loving myself and pushing myself sometimes get conflated.  Sometimes I give myself an extra ten minutes of sleep before work, and that’s loving myself.

I didn’t always used to have such positive outlets for how I felt about myself.  Sometimes I still don’t.  I used to think that loving myself meant doing everything I could to be skinny like girls are supposed to be.  I didn’t do the greatest job of taking care of myself physically, and it took a toll on me in a way that I couldn’t notice back then.  When I got positive comments, I felt like I was flying.  It reinforced what I was doing (which was not consuming food), and it felt damn good.  When I didn’t get positive comments… I wasn’t very nice to myself.  I punished myself, and to this day I am extremely ashamed of this.

I don’t know when this changed for me, and I can’t promise that it will, because nobody can do that.  (If only…)

It turns out that I’m not actively trying to make you cry, and I’m definitely not searching for compliments or pity.  I want you to be aware that this acceptance of self is a process.  It’s a journey and it’s hard.  So, what does this have to do with you?

You never know where somebody is coming from in life.  You don’t know if that chubby kid goes home and tries to eat right and maybe has some other problems.  That weird quiet dude doesn’t need you to point out that he looks like he hasn’t washed his hair.  People are so acutely aware of their flaws, they really don’t need to hear another voice chime in and repeat them.

One of the most important things that happened when I started realizing I was worth more than cuts and starvation was that I became a nicer person.  When I was better to myself, I felt better and I passed that on to the rest of the world.  I’m not trying to be preachy and I’m not trying to brag about how great a person I am – I still have flaws, and maybe you have a different reason for being mad at the world.  It’s okay.

There’s that old adage that says, “you can’t love someone else until you learn to love yourself”.  I know it’s not healthy to base your worth on your relationship status.  However, I think there’s a very fine line between the healthy and unhealthy aspects of that.  For me, finding that awesome girlfriend of mine made me a great deal happier.  I’m about to sound EVEN LAMER (as if that’s possible at this point) and tell you that she has made me want to be a better person.

I wanted to share my experiences and opinions with you about this stuff for awhile, and I’m still not sure I managed to do it without sounding all “hurr durr look at how great my life is now”.  It’s important to remember that you ought to be kind to yourself.  Self-respect and self-worth are terms that get tossed around a lot, and it’s easy to get lost in the myriad definitions.

Take a good, hard look at what you view as loving yourself.  Does it harm yourself, physically or psychologically?  Does it harm someone else, physically or psychologically?  It doesn’t have to be a productive thing, necessarily (my coffee/chocolate consumption is hardly productive and mostly just delicious).

Be good to yourselves.  I think you’ll feel a lot better.


How To: Survive The Friend Zone

Hey look, I’m not dead and I haven’t quit on you kids just yet!

I had to take some time to figure out what I should cover here and what sort of things would actually make a good blog post.  And now, here I am.

Today I want to talk about the friend zone.  It’s that magically awful place you get stuck in when the friend you like doesn’t want to take your relationship to that next level.  The friend zone is almost invariably the worst possible place to be, going from responses I got from friends and the representations that appear in mass media.

Let’s start with a definition.  A friend zone is what one is placed in when the object of their affections says, “No thanks, but we can still be friends”.  There’s really no easy way to be in the friend zone, and that seems to be the root of the problem with it.  It’s not easy so we don’t want to do it ever.  It would totally be way easier if that person who friend zoned us would just say “Okay” and date us, right?  More on that in a minute.

I don’t know a single person who enjoys being rejected.  This goes for my friends who are actors, even though they put themselves in that position an awful lot.  However, there is a difference between being rejected and being put in the friend zone.  Being rejected means being dumped, thrown away, told you’re not good enough at all for someone or something.

My friend Aim made a really good point – if someone puts you in the friend zone after an awkward advance, that means they want to stay friends.  And that means, by extension, that they value your friendship enough to endure the awkward post-advance times with you.  Isn’t that an important thing to talk about?

It’s important to remember that when you’re thinking, “UGH why won’t he (or she) just DATE ME ALREADY?”  Because friendship is a valuable thing.  Remember that time I talked about Nice Guy Syndrome?  Nobody owes you a sexy relationship.  Nobody even owes you friendship, which if you think about it that way, makes friendship seem that much more valuable.

A concept that seems to go hand-in-hand with being friend zoned is that of oneitis.  This is where all you can think, talk, write, or worry about is that one person.  It’s easily confused with love, and even though I’m supposed to be this big oracle on relationship things and love and advice, I’m not entirely clear what the boundaries are here.  I think that, if you aren’t having feelings reciprocated, you need to take a step back and seriously think about your life and choices with regard to that particular person.

Most romantic comedies fall into this trap of romanticizing oneitis and demonizing the friend zone.  It’s really not a healthy way to portray these things.  First of all, your feelings may not be returned for some very good reasons, and you should probably find a friend to tell you exactly why.  Second, out of the hundreds of thousands of people you see in a day, what makes that one person so special?  I’m not advocating writing out any sonnets Shakespeare-style, describing your supposed heart’s desire or anything.  However, I do recommend making a list of things you know about the person you want to get with, and making a list of things you like in a person.

This takes some serious honesty on your part.  Don’t gloss over any flaws to make the other person seem better.  They’re never going to see this list.  What are the things you don’t like in a potential partner?  Does this person have any of those qualities?

Curing oneitis and surviving the friend zone are two totally different things.  The good part is it’s possible, but the bad part is that they require a brutal level of honesty that can usually only come from a close friend.  In my experience, this gets dicey when the person friend zoning you (or who is the target of the oneitis) happens to be your best friend.  Your best bet is to get down and dirty with the honesty, talk it out, and then decide if your friendship is better than any potential romantic relationship.  With a little luck you’ll get through it.

 

Send any questions to gaygirladvice @ gmail.com, or find me on Twitter!  Thanks for reading


Self-Help Books Can Actually Be Helpful???

Okay I’m sorry, I didn’t fall off the planet, I’ve just been shirking my duty as your faithful advice blogger for… Well for long enough to risk falling off the planet, I suppose.  I haven’t really done much, apart from the usual going to the gym, going to work, and eating food routine that most people seem to have.  So exciting.

One thing I have done is finish reading a book.  An advice book, no less – something I normally avoid like a cat avoids water.

I’m not usually one for self-help books. I tend to find the advice therein trite, condescending, and in some cases enabling of the behaviors the person reading needs help with. Of course, when my mom handed me this book I went, “Yeah, sure, I’ll read this. Eventually.” Because my mother likes to hand out advice, wanted, warranted, or not, I really just rolled my eyes. And then my girlfriend read the book first. And then something ridiculous happened – she told me it was good. Not just good, but something that I should be reading.

Thus, I just finished reading, The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay, PhD. The book is broken down into a few sections, on love, work, and being a grown-up. Really, the whole book centers on acting like an adult now instead of later, and getting your act together before you’re 30. There are a lot of examples that Dr. Jay uses to describe exactly what she’s getting at, whether it’s the twentysomething boy who was essentially homeless because he grew up in an unsettled divorced parenting situation, or the young Korean American woman who had grown up being teased for being different and a virgin in high school, so she never stopped to consider the sort of qualities she actually wanted in a partner – she just wanted to be wanted.

I wish I couldn’t identify so well with each of the people in this book. I’m way overeducated for my current job. I know this, and I know what I want to be doing, I just don’t know if I can actually put in the work to get there. I just keep assuming that everything will fall into place, because that’s what I’ve been taught to expect. I’ve also been hearing, “You’re young, this is what you’re supposed to do” an awful lot, too.

I think, contrary to popular belief, “YOLO” (you only live once) is part of this problem that leaves folks screwed over in their thirties. The twenties are apparently to be spent partying, traveling, working as a barista at Starbucks, and generally not giving a shit about the future because you’ll think about it “when you’re thirty” or “way later”…. Draw a timeline of how you want your life to go. If you have a picture like that, and “babies” and something like “medical school” are in the same place… You might have to reconsider what you’re doing.

What resonated most with me, for a silly reason, was the entire section on love. Every time my girlfriend and I have had problems of any sort, I have been advised by at least one person to break up with her and find someone else. I’m always told that I will have plenty of time to find my perfect someone, because my girlfriend and I are “so young” (I’m almost 24, for the record). I think getting together at a pretty young age, relatively speaking, is seen as a thing of the past. I have a friend who just got married, and she’s a couple years younger than I am. Do I think that’s too young? Maybe. I don’t know.

The point I’m trying (and failing) to make is that I feel really lucky in love. I don’t think I care if my perfect soul mate life partner match from heaven is out there in the world somewhere. There are another 7 billion people on this planet, of course. But, at this point, I think instead of stressing over whether or not my girlfriend and I are completely 100% totally perfect, I am going to focus on all the great things about being with her. At least in this respect, I feel like I have my shit together.

I wish I had an idea of what I want to be when I grow up. I wish I knew what I wanted to DO with my life. I want to do a million things, and I’m so afraid of all the possibilities that I don’t know where to start, and so I’m just paralyzed by all of them.

This paragraph I just wrote isn’t in the book, but there are a bunch like it. It makes me feel less bad, being as concerned as I am about my career future, because Facebook and the media seem to keep telling me that I should be gallivanting around Europe half-naked and fucking my way through hostels or something to that effect. Those same institutions tell me that I should drink more and do stupid shit because, after all, “you only live once”.

While that’s all probably a good time, I will take my amazing girlfriend, our tiny apartment, and a half-cooked plan for the rest of my life over drinks in an English pub any day. I may not know where I want to go, but I know who I want to get there with, and I really think that’s a big step in the right direction.

I’m not advocating for or against settling down at an earlier age, and I’m not even knocking working for Starbucks.  All I’m saying is that this book is pretty great, I recommend it, and I think we could all stand to get the ball rolling on the rest of our lives a little faster than age 30.

A little ambition never killed anyone.

…Right?