Dear Ms. Behavior:
Our daughter, Jenny, who is getting ready to go to college, is looking at a broad variety of schools. Even though she has two mothers who raised her, and loved her from day one, she seems to feel that going to a women’s college is not appealing, because of “the gays.”
This comment came out of nowhere, but appears to have taken hold. She won’t let us take her on a tour of any of the Seven Sisters colleges. She refuses to speak with us about her new view, though she previously never has shown anything but acceptance and appreciation of our place as a family in the gay community.
What’s happening? Where did we go wrong? What can we do to get our sweet, sensible, sensitive girl back?
—Mothers A And T
Dear Mothers A And T:
Your daughter is trying to separate from you, which is a totally normal and usual thing to do at her age. Though it’s not pleasant, her need to insult you or even rail against “the gays” probably indicates she feels very attached to you, and fears she won’t be able to separate adequately when she goes off to college.
It’s best not to take her gay-squeamish comments too literally. If you had been straight, Jenny would have found another way to assert her independence. Depending on what might have alarmed you most, she could have proclaimed her bisexuality, gotten a pistol permit, or become a Sarah Palin supporter—Goddess forbid.
Your “sweet, sensible, sensitive girl” will be back later. All you need to do is go on with your lives, take her to whatever college campuses she finds appealing, and pretend nothing strange is happening.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
My ex-boyfriend won’t seem to go away. He shows up at my door, sneaks around corners to “bump in to me,” and gets himself invited to parties where he knows I’ll be. The thing is, he never was as interested in me as he is now that I finally have given him his walking papers.
My friends think it’s because I supported him for a few years, and I ultimately will inherit some money from my family. I don’t think that’s true, but if it is, that’s incredibly painful. Whatever his motives, I truly am not interested in getting back together. I have moved on.
Just the other day, while we were watching American Idol together, he claimed he knew we would be “together forever.” He is a lawyer for a living, and a very persuasive guy.
What can I do to keep myself from falling back into his web?
I do not want to spend my life with him as a boyfriend. I need to fight against his forces.
It sounds like your ex is quite powerful, and you are a wafty little thing who could get sucked right out of your own life, like Dorothy in a tornado.
First, you have to stop envisioning your own weakness—you need to think of yourself as solid and strong. You are a tree. You are a mountain. You are a primitive man in an attractive loincloth. Your ex is a dried-up leaf, a twig, a splinter. He has no web and no great powers. You are impervious to his actions.
Meanwhile, despite your developing inner strength, it sounds like you need some rules to protect you:
(1) Do not watch American Idol with your ex. Ms. Behavior should not have to explain this, but American Idol makes people (of every age and gender) bond, giggle, and act like teenage girls. Also, don’t watch TV together at all. In fact, don’t engage in any activity that requires you to sit on a sofa together. It’s too much like old times.
(2) Don’t hang out with your friends together. It will make everyone feel weird. Don’t visit each other’s families. Your mother will get confused, and that will confuse you.
(3) No breakup sex. No frottage. No hand jobs.
(4) This may sound strict, but if you really want to stay broken up, don’t hug, grope, or kiss—not even an innocent peck on the cheek.
(5) Don’t hang out with lesbians. They will empathize with your ex, and encourage you and your ex to hang out “as friends.”
(6) Man up. Remember, you are a mountain. He is a tumbleweed.
© 2010 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.