Ms. Behavior®

Dear Ms. Behavior:

My ex-girlfriend and longtime friend, Shelley, and I have been fighting a lot. We have difficulty in even agreeing about the source of conflict between us. I worry about our friendship surviving.

I want to talk about our differences until we get to the bottom. Shelley clams up (as she did when we were girlfriends), and wants to just move on, claiming that’s a better way to salvage our friendship. I think “moving on” is an excuse just not to deal with the problem.

What do you think?


Dear Communicator:

It’s good to try to unravel the issue that drives an argument, if possible, and, of course, most lesbians are wired for processing.

But if you and Shelley disagree about “the source of conflict,” and talking about it threatens your friendship, you may have to agree to move on for now.

The ability of two people to communicate often is determined by the lowest common denominator in the dyad, i.e., the noncommunicator.

If you and Shelley were still lovers, you could bond through kissing and tribadism, and then perhaps find your way back to verbal clarity. If you were straight men, you just could punch each other in the face a couple of times, and then feel as close as ever.

But as lesbian exes, prone to the trap of endless circular processing, you might be better off finding a few activities you can do together, so that you can take the pressure off. Go to a concert, or volunteer at a fund-raiser together, without talking about anything heavy, or trying to force a resolution.

Let’s hope time spent together will allow you to remember what you like about each other. After a while, when you each are feeling less inflamed over your differences, you may find a way to understand each other’s point of view better.

And if all else fails, there’s always tribadism for old time’s sake.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

Is there a polite way to tell someone he has a hairy crack? My new boyfriend really needs a good waxing. He’s younger and more beautiful than I am, so I don’t want to insult him, or put him off.

—Smooth Lover

Dear Smooth Lover

Bring home a waxing kit, and offer to do it for him. You may want to practice on some reachable part of your body first, just to make sure you’re proficient at it, and don’t torture him too much. Make it fun for him, and reward him somehow for the pain. Then, let him know how sexy he is when he’s smooth.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

I’m interested in this guy, Russell, at work.

I’ve done everything possible to make him feel comfortable, and also to express my interest. I’ve taken him out to lunch. I’ve bought him little office-appropriate presents. I’ve let him know that I’m single, available, and interested. I even have held his hand, and playfully rubbed his back.

But he never wants to do anything after work with me. I’ve invited him to the gym, the movies, the theater, a friend’s dinner party, a bar, a pool tournament, and dinner.

My friends tell me he’s straight, and not interested, but something about the way he laps up my attention says otherwise.

Is there any hope?

—Nervous Coworker

Dear Nervous Coworker:

It sounds like you’ve been rather thorough in conveying your interest. Because you already have done “everything possible” to let Russell know that you want him, it’s time to believe your wise friends, and back off.

You’d like to believe that Russell’s “lapping up” of your attention means he secretly wishes to be seduced by you. But maybe he didn’t get enough attention from Daddy, and your praise and admiration soothe his inner child. Or maybe he genuinely enjoys your company.

Some people are quite comfortable with being wooed, desired, and taken out to lunch, and really don’t want anything more. It sounds like Russell is one of those people.

If you somehow can get to a place where you can enjoy Russell’s daytime friendship, and not expect more, fine. But keep in mind that the main thing separating the Romantics from the Stalkers is the ability to hear and respond to the word “No.”

© 2008 Meryl Cohen. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected] She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.

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