Dear Ms. Behavior:
My girlfriend, Cara, is obsessed with vampires. She watches a vampire TV show and a teenybopper vampire movie over and over. I think she has a sexual fetish about the whole thing. I wish she’d turn her energy toward me, or at least spend her time looking for a job, or pitching in around the house. She’s defensive about it.
Sometimes, when we’re running late to go out and meet friends, because she’s watching her movie (again), I complain. But then, Cara just refuses to go out at all, and I end up having to go alone. I secretly suspect that she does it on purpose, so she can stay home, and watch more. It seems like some sort of addiction, but I don’t even know if that’s possible.
What do you think?
—Sick Of Vampires
Dear Sick Of Vampires:
OK, maybe watching vampire movies isn’t a hobby that you want to cultivate, but try not to act too critical of Cara’s obsession, if only because your disdain just will make it easier for her to pull away. This doesn’t mean that you should support her habit—don’t bring her snacks or rub her toes while she watches the bloodsucking videos—but try to achieve an attitude of neutral detachment.
At first, detachment is hard to grasp. It doesn’t mean doling out punishing silence, but rather, going on with your life, avoiding throwing dishes, or setting fire to your hair to get the attention of the person who is absorbed otherwise.
It sounds like Cara really is using the movies and television to separate herself from her life right now. And, yes, it’s crappy that she’s shirking her responsibilities, and using vampires to escape.
You haven’t mentioned how long Cara has been caught up in her obsession, but regardless of whether her attraction to vampires is a fetish, it sounds like she’s avoidant and depressed.
So, what can you do?
Well, because you can’t prescribe Lexapro or Wellbutrin on your own, you can try to get Cara to a therapist. If she’s too immobilized to go, at least attempt to get her into couple’s therapy with you, which is sometimes a back door into individual therapy.
If all else fails, try biting Cara’s neck to get her attention.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I’m in my first year at college. I still am seeing my boyfriend, Rafe, who lives about an hour away. Lately, his father, John, e-mails me, and sends me messages on Facebook. I feel like the guy is flirting with me, and I always have liked him.
How can I find out if this is real?
I don’t want to ruin things with Rafe if his father only is playing with my head.
Should I just come out and ask him what he has in mind?
No, you shouldn’t ask Rafe’s father what he has in mind, because if he says, “Nothing—what do you mean?” you’ll feel like an idiot, and if it’s something else, like, “I want to lick your body from head to toe,” you can’t do it.
Technically, perhaps, you could sign up for licking, bondage, blow jobs, or whatever tawdry act Rafe’s padre might be conjuring in his mind (or at least in yours), but it would be inadvisable.
If Rafe’s father really means to seduce you, he’s enacting aggression toward his son, and you’re just the vehicle for that. In terms of your responsibility, pursuing Rafe’s father is probably the sneakiest and crappiest thing you can do to Rafe.
If there’s only one take-away from this column, at least remember this: Whether you believe in monogamy, God or Freud, Passover or Hell, or karma or Martians, it is always a mistake to sleep with your boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) relative.
If you really need to ask why (and surely someone will), it’s because it’s confusing, melodramatic, and twisted. No matter how hot it may seem, it’s ultimately profoundly disturbing.
Of course, such behavior is the foundation of cautionary literary myths and icky incestuous reality shows, but in your own precious little life, you don’t want to go there.
© 2009 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.