Dear Ms. Behavior:
How does a 56-year-old single lesbian find new people and things to do after leaving a relationship of 21 years that narrowed the focus to family and work?
I am in foreclosure, on unemployment, and barely self-employed. It’s not a pretty financial picture.
Most days, I feel like it’s an opportunity for change. I’ve started connecting with old friends. I’m spending quiet time, and eliminating distraction. I’m working on a marketing business; writing; volunteering in English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring; and helping a friend who administratively is assisting someone who builds schools in Sudan.
Truly, my life has taken a turn toward what I hope is a good track. It has been an opportunity for growth. I finally may have figured out how to listen.
Someone quoted Emerson today, so I googled him, and read some quotes. The one that made me laugh out loud: “Solitude is impractical, and yet society is fatal.”
Apparently, I need help finding people who appreciate my sense of humor.
So, Ms. Behavior, what have you for me?
I look forward to your wisdom.
Dear Just Wondering:
It would be nice if a formula existed by which you could heal yourself, offer pithy quotes, and then be guaranteed to find a hot little woman to accompany you for the rest of your life.
As your adviser during this fallow time, Ms. Behavior wants to make sure you know that, in fact, you are walking in exactly the right direction. The little unemployment problem is difficult, but you are addressing that issue through suitable action and networking. You’re taking care of yourself, too. You soon will find the same efforts that help you feel better also will strengthen your appeal to others.
The big problem right now is that you don’t recognize where you are.
It’s as if you have come home from a long hard day of manual labor, turned on the shower, and let your dirty clothes fall to the floor. The steam is filling the bathroom, and you are about to step in. You wouldn’t want to miss the moment of cleansing—of feeling the warm water soak and purify your skin. Yet you are skipping ahead to the future, fearful about whether you ever will look fresh and moist again. You are anxious because you are naked, but you are so on the verge of dewiness.
So, just keep on keeping on, Missy. The drought is almost over.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
My boyfriend, Matt, is a great guy. All my friends think he’s “the one.”
The problem is that that Matt is sneaking around, and hooking up with someone else. I saw explicit text messages on his phone from another guy (who seems younger, and has a lower IQ). The texts Matt sent were equally explicit and shocking.
I feel like I’m supposed to yell and scream, and break up with Matt—because we supposedly are committed. But strangely, once I get beyond the surprise, his cheating does not even bother me.
My best friend, Jessie, said maybe I don’t care because I want to hook up with other people, too. The thing is, I don’t.
I don’t want to redefine our relationship as “open,” but I lack the stomach to confront Matt, or even have a conversation about it.
When I think of Matt getting some of his needs met by other people, I feel relieved. Maybe I won’t be so disappointing if he’s not counting on me for everything. Jessie says that’s pathetic.
Am I pathetic? Why don’t I care if my boyfriend fucks around?
Even if you truly don’t care about Matt’s infidelity, you may want to acknowledge the truth to each other openly.
Remaining clear and honest increases the odds that your relationship will last. Of course, plenty of marriages are built on denial, and ignoring irksome details. It depends on what kind of relationship you and Matt want.
Meanwhile, here are some possible explanations for your blasé reaction:
(1) You just are not that into Matt.
(2) You are spiritually evolved and/or too cool to care.
(3) You’re clinically depressed, and caring feels like too much trouble.
(4) The other man’s (Mr. Texter’s) low IQ makes you feel too secure to worry.
(5) You are incapable of true love and commitment. If you were able to commit, you’d have chosen someone other than Matt—someone who really could “go there” with you.
(6) You have low self-esteem, and feel that you are not worthy of devotion anyway—hence, your fear about seeming disappointing.
(7) You are French.
© 2011 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.