Ms. Behavior®: Deafness and Jealousy


Dear Ms. Behavior:

I’m a lesbian and slightly hard of hearing. Last night a friend told me about a scientific report from a few years ago, alleging that lesbians have hearing similar to that of straight men. I’m not sure if that means my hearing is better or worse than other women. Do you know anything about this study? If the report is true, does that make me more of a dyke than my friends? Is that a good thing?

–Deaf Dora

Dear Deaf Dora:

Does your deafness make you more of a dyke? Not really.  But your desire to know how you measure up does make you seem a bit like a competitive straight guy.

Heterosexual scientists (and sometimes queer ones, too) often try to find evidence that lesbians are different from straight people. Duh. Such scientists typically search for extra hormones, enlarged clitorises, different brain structures, and finally, hearing differences.

It’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of research funding – at least until such time that we can put the information to more useful purpose – like perhaps creating an environment that is hospitable to all of our species. Planet Lesbian, anyone? The real problem with the design of such “Utopian” places is that they’re limited by the imagination of their planners. (To Whom it May Concern: Please don’t make us wear matching haircuts or listen to folk music or play golf. Please don’t put those who wear make-up in one building and those who wear whistles around their necks in another. Please include an anti-drama clause in the by-laws. And no tents, lutes, or incense, please.)

Despite continued correspondence from Ms. Behavior, scientists completely ignore the more obvious evidence of actual lesbian differences, like acute seriousness, inability to tolerate fragrances, and an overwhelming attraction toward Subaru Outbacks and dogs that are part wolf.  (Ms. Behavior recently completed her extensive study confirming these facts to be true even of lesbians raised in captivity but no one has offered a dime to fund her research.)

Dear Ms. Behavior:

Last night my boyfriend Joel and I were out with friends. The conversation turned to sex, and Joel revealed that he’d been with over 1700 men before we met. We’ve been monogamous for three years and I had no idea!

I’m no prude, but I’m shocked by the math. Joel is 30 and was sexually active for five years before we met, which means he had sex seven days a week with no holidays or sick time!

I don’t doubt his devotion to me, but I can’t stop envisioning Joel having sex with strangers. I feel sick and jealous. I want to ask questions that will probably make me feel worse.  I don’t want to ruin our relationship. What should I do?


Dear Skeeved:

Joel is the same person he was last week, before you found out he’s a former slut. If he was trustworthy then, he still is.

Retroactive jealousy is destructive. It’s okay to tell Joel that the conversation made you feel anxious and jealous, so that you don’t instead act out your insecurity or pick fights. But don’t count on reassurance from him, because he probably won’t understand your need for it. After all, his ‘ho’ing days are not news to him, and he still feels the same love for you that he felt before this discussion.

After a brief conversation with Joel, you’ll be better off discussing your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist. You’ll also need to silence your mind — this would be a good time to meditate on a lotus flower — and not feed into your worries. Do NOT ask for details that you don’t actually want. They’ll keep you awake at night.

If you’re lucky, after a few weeks of disciplined meditative practice, your sexual jealousy may actually turn to arousal. Then, if your mind wanders and you still imagine Joel in a variety of steamy sexual scenarios, you may find that it fuels your connection with him instead of your jealous indignation.


© 2012 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected].

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