Dear Ms. Behavior:
Last fall, my friend Joe introduced me to Sherry on a lesbian fix-up. He claimed Sherry was a fantastic stylish professional with a great sense of humor. We went out on several dates: at first she seemed exactly as he described her, although soon she grew a little nervous and clingy. Within the month Sherry had lost her job and apartment during some kind of rage attack, and also lost any semblance of sanity. When I broke it off with her, she seemed unwilling to accept reality and kept calling, writing, sending gifts, and dropping by. It was traumatic for me, like being stalked and finally, I got tough with her: “Sherry, you’re not for me. Sorry things are rough, but I don’t want to date anymore. Don’t call or write. I do not want to be in contact with you ever again.” Luckily, that did the trick.
Anyway, the problem is my friend Joe: it turns out he’s known Sherry for years and has lived through these meltdowns of hers –– freaking out, losing jobs, massive insecurities, verging on delusions –– but he neglected to warn me. Last night I saw him at a party. When I mentioned the experience, he just shrugged and said, “Guess she wasn’t for you.” I know I should just let it go and write it off as a singular psycho lesbian dating experience, but I feel so mad at his response. I’ve also found out that he’s now planning to set her up with Sarah, a casual friend of mine. Should I warn Sarah?
– Warning or Not
Dear Warning or Not:
It sounds like Sherry needs a therapist (or some medication) a lot more than she needs a girlfriend. With the proper help, she may feel a lot better and not act so, well, nutty.
You can warn Sarah about your own experience with Sherry without being unkind. But if Sarah is one of those gentle-hearted boundary-free lesbians who ache to fulfill all of someone’s wacky needs, your cautionary tale won’t help. Haven’t you met the type? – professional dog groomer by day, amateur crisis counselor/psychodrama instructor by night, willing to act as caretaker, lover, career counselor, real estate agent, mommy, and psychiatrist?
Joe may continue to try to foist Sherry onto unsuspecting lesbians because it lightens his burden; he may be the beneficiary of Sherry’s meltdowns when she’s single. But at this point, it’s no longer your problem. Just consider his judgment tainted (and politely decline any further matchmaking assistance).
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I’m a 23-year-old man. My longest relationship was with my childhood sweetheart, a girl, which started in the 7th grade and continued through college. I’m still close to Betsy’s parents, although Betsy refuses to speak to me. She doesn’t accept that I’m gay –she’s more religious than her parents and says it’s an “abomination” and is also pissed because I was supposed to marry her. She doesn’t ever want to see me again. Her parents continue to write me cards and letters and to tell me they accept me as I am.
Can I remain close with Betsy’s parents and see them on the sly when I visit home? I know it sounds weird, but they were like a second family to me. My boyfriend says I gave all that up when I gave up Betsy. Is that true, Ms. Behavior? Does becoming gay mean you have to wipe away ALL the comforts of the past?
–Member of the Family
Dear Member of the Family:
Being gay does not mean you have to wipe away all the comforts of your past. It just means you have to wear silly costumes, hold your wrist limply, and talk with a lisp – but only during a chance encounter with Betsy.
When you refer to seeing Betsy’s parents “on the sly,” from whom are you hiding it? If you mean Betsy, Ms. Behavior sees no problem with your choice. You’re not obligated to please her anymore. (In fact, it’s unlikely you ever did, isn’t it?)
You do, however, have an obligation to be truthful with your boyfriend about your feelings for Betsy’s family. He doesn’t have to like your relationship with them and he doesn’t have to visit them with you, but you shouldn’t hide from him your intention to see them.