Ms. Behavior©

Dear Ms Behavior:

I’m dating a new woman, Jane, who seems dogmatic. A lefty organizer, she believes that politics and peace are her religion. That’s fine with me. I certainly have put in my years of working for the movement.

On our fourth date, we had a pretty unpleasant argument over idealism and war, in which I found her to be incredibly rigid. We haven’t kissed yet, or even held hands. I like her, but I probably don’t like her overly radical politics enough to get very serious.

Nonetheless, I feel vaguely compelled to call her, and talk about what our political differences mean. In other words, we’ve yet really to have a conversation about us.

Should I not call her if I’m not serious?

We might be able to pull our relationship back into a positive light if she has a sense that she’s completely off-putting in these “light” political debates.

Once, Jane told me that she felt like her politics kept her from getting involved with people. Maybe she’ll be insightful, and we can have a fifth date.

What do you think? Should I give her a second chance?

—Jo-Jo


Dear Jo-Jo:

If you and Jane can agree on a light comedy and Vietnamese food for your fifth date, you probably don’t have to agree on a political platform as well. Unless, of course, you’re the type of woman who only wants to date if it will “lead to something,” and Ms. Behavior doesn’t mean a revolution.

Ideally, dating is a process of getting to know another person, not necessarily trying to figure out exactly where her furniture and politics will fit in with yours.

If you’re worried about misleading Jane, based on your discomfort that your social or political views don’t jive, you can talk about it.

Continued dating would be deceitful only if you pretended to want more than you really do, or to like her more than you really do.

But if your mild hope for a relationship with Jane is dependent on her sudden insight that she’s “off-putting,” you probably will be disappointed.

A momentary realization or even a deeper acknowledgement of a particular trait does not mean an investment in becoming a different person. It’s unlikely she’ll change.

If, on the other hand, you can wrap your mind around a lighter sort of interaction (sex for sport, for example), you still might have a good time.

In fact, if you could arrange to disentangle yourself from further romantic involvement after, say, the eighth date, it might be fun to have sex with a Marxist.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

My ex-lover, Jake-the-Bisexual, is married now. His wife, Miranda, is a controlling bitch who always is trying to ruin our friendship, and interfere with the business Jake and I run together. We own an antique store, which I run. He is a silent partner.

I’m forced to deal with Miranda’s mettlesome, undermining behavior. Half the time, Jake and I get along fine, because we agree that she’s horrible, but every once in a while, he tries too hard to please her, and acts like a pussy-whipped jerk who is in love with her. I can’t bear it when he even considers her opinion.

Jake tells me that I’m a misogynist, and that I should shut my mouth.

Don’t I have a right to ask that the bitch not come shopping for antiques in our store?

I don’t think I should have to put up with her. We’ve decided to let you decide.

—Sick Of It


Dear Sick Of It:

You do sound like a misogynist, and a bitter one at that.

No one says you have to welcome Miranda, but calling her “the bitch” will not help improve this cozy little triangle.

If your attachment to Jake is contingent on your agreement that his wife is horrible, you’re not much of a friend, either.

Miranda should shop for antiques on your day off (or on eBay). And you should think about buying Jake out of the business (or vice versa), to preserve what’s left of your friendship.

If you find this suggestion to be immediately objectionable, it’s probably because you’re invested in continuing the drama, as a way of staying connected to Jake.

And, oh, yeah, you probably should get a therapist. Try to find a female one, so that you can deal directly with your dislike of women.

© 2011 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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