Ms. Behavior

Dear Ms. Behavior:

I’m in a long-distance relationship with a great woman who lives two hours away. We see each other most weekends, but are limited to phone calls during the week. Living together won’t be possible for at least two years, after her daughter graduates from high school.

I’m not really interested in dating other people, but I’m lonely. Though my GF and I talk every night, spending 20-plus days of the month without physical affection is hard for me.

I’ve heard about a lesbian tantric workshop that meets every Wednesday in my hometown, and I’m curious. I called for information, and was told that it’s OK to attend with or without a partner.

No actual sex happens during the workshop, but people try things out with different partners. The “emphasis is on touching and intimacy.” I’m excited by the thought of this, but I’m afraid that if I tell my partner about it, she’ll say that she doesn’t want me to go.

Is there any way I can justify going without telling her?

—I Wanna Sneak

Dear I Wanna Sneak:

Ah, The Slippery Slope of the Monogamous Lesbian and the Tantric Workshop! Can you justify attending the lovefest without telling your girlfriend? Sure, you probably could justify almost anything.

How about if Ms. Behavior provides the rationalization: “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” Or, “It’s not like I’m having sex with the tantric women. I’m just stroking their hair. And their faces. And their breasts….” Or even, “My relationship will be even better if I’m more fulfilled.”

That all may be true, but the bigger question is what effect keeping a juicy secret will have on your relationship. If you and your partner didn’t have an agreement about monogamy, you’d have no need to seek advice. Given that the two of you talk every day, omitting any mention of Tantra Night would involve a string of lies.

How would you respond to the “How was your day? What did you do tonight?” phone call on Wednesdays? If you say you’ve joined a Scrabble team or a Bowling League, what happens when you continue to throw gutter balls, or don’t learn any new two-letter words, but become an increasingly focused and attentive lover?

The nitty-gritty details of the tantric lezzie activities (regardless of whether they involve “actual sex”) matter less than being truthful with your partner: Even if you merely engage in some innocent fire breathing and chakra stroking, you’ll be violating your shared understanding about the relationship.

Nothing’s wrong per se with nuzzling, dancing, and chanting with other women, or even kissing them and massaging their G spots, if your girlfriend knows what’s going on, and is willing to live with it.

If your relationship isn’t meeting your needs, you need to say so, which could lead to discussion to address the problem, or to a compromise that works for you both.

Try to be open-minded. And maybe next weekend you and your GF could rent Hearts Cracked Open, a documentary about Lesbian Tantra.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

What do you do when an ex wants you back, and you’re afraid you’ll give in?

My ex, Brian, broke up with me in an extremely nasty way last summer, telling me that I was “too boring.” I was hurt and even depressed for a couple of months.

A couple of weeks ago, Brian e-mailed me out of the blue. He told me that he misses me, and that he’s lonely without me. I knew I shouldn’t respond, but I wrote to him anyway. Then, he wrote three more e-mails asking when we can talk, which makes me wonder if he wants to get back together.

If he does, should I take him back? I did love him. Do people ever change? Does a mean person always stay mean?

—James

Dear James:

Because of the sweet hopefulness coming through your letter (like an innocent belief in Santa Claus), Ms. Behavior feels reluctant to tell you that in general, people don’t ever really change.

If it’s Brian’s nature to be mean, he’ll be so, even if he occasionally tempers it with confusing periods of kindness. When someone has been “extremely nasty” in a breakup, and you have little resistance to that person—as indicated by your inability to ignore your ex’s initial e-mail, even though you knew it would be better not to respond—you can’t afford to open the door.

It’s over. He doesn’t get to be with you again just because he’s having a moment of loneliness. You don’t have to delude yourself into thinking it will be different this time. Protecting yourself now will spare you the pain of being tossed aside again when he moves from lonely to bored.

© 2007 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <msbehavior@aol.com>. 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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