Dear Ms. Behavior:
I thank you for being funny as hell. I have been reading and rereading your etiquette guide ever since its publication.
I first found womyn through the personals, and then through the Womyn’s Studies Department, so I am thoroughly saturated with Cris Williamson, Holly Near, and the desire to act as I really feel.
The concept of playing games seems like irritating social crap. However, my straight cycling buddy has told me over and over that if I want to hold the attention of the amazon I recently started adoring, I must back off, and feign at least some noninterest.
Aside from just wanting to devour a womyn who is taller than me (this never has occurred in my entire dating history, as I am tall myself), I have a strong anti-BS clause in my makeup, and I find it difficult.
The two of us seem similarly calibrated. My desire to text her lovely haiku throughout the day is strong. I do realize it may be that pesky beginning stage where all you can see are blue skies. It is possible that some weird monster will crawl out from the cracks, and explain that she is not even available.
In any case, I am finding it difficult to understand how I should conduct myself. Furthermore, I am plagued by a notion that she is some kind of karmic retribution for every lover I have hurt, and will smash my heart into a million pieces.
I am ridiculously smitten. She has bicycle-racing scars. She served me arugula for dinner. I am in a constant swoon. I wish I were joking even a little bit.
Thanks for cracking me up repeatedly in the meantime.
Your Adoring Fan,
It’s interesting that you would you rely on your straight cycling buddy for advice about holding the attention of the amazon. Unless you believe your straight friend’s knowledge of gear mechanisms and bicycle seats is a useful metaphor for lesbian love, the source of your love advice thus far has been strange.
If you left some vital piece of information out of your letter—if for example, your straight friend’s advice is based on prior knowledge that you are prone to mortifying expressions of love—then, OK, fine, perhaps your friend is trying to tone you down to save you.
However, the term “straight cycling buddy” implies a certain distance. This is all by way of saying that you finally have come to the right place for your love guidance.
You wonder if you must back off, and feign noninterest, when you’d rather text lovely haikus.
But if you and the appealing amazon are “similarly calibrated,” as you suggest, how would game-playing help?
Your romantic inclinations surely would fell most tall lesbians. And those who’d respond with disdain probably aren’t right for you anyway.
As for your desire to “devour” the tall woman, from Ms. Behavior’s 5’10” perspective, few women are large enough for the task, so it seems likely that your amazon will be tickled by your enthusiasm (and your teeth).
Of course there is a difference between expressing interest and acting like a sticky booger. If you truly are inclined to the latter, you can contain your behavior slightly, without going to an extreme of avoidance or feigning disinterest. In any case, lots of women appreciate romantic gestures.
But why do some people get away with Grand Romantic Gestures, and others look like fools for their amorous displays of enthusiasm?
Some of it depends on your delivery, and some on your reading of social cues—e.g., how the object of your affection feels about you.
For example, if you sneak into your beloved’s apartment, and sprinkle dozens of rose petals on her bed, will you look like a romantic genius or a psychotic stalker?
If you don’t know the answer, it’s better not to do it.
In general, avoid Grand Romantic Gestures under the following circumstances:
(1) If they involve forced entry.
(2) When the object of your affection doesn’t know you exist.
(3) When she has a girlfriend.
Otherwise, try it, and see how it goes.
When you say that you fear that this woman could be “karmic retribution for every woman you have hurt,” it sounds like you might need to make amends to a few (dozen) women.
If that’s not possible, at least try to come to peace with your past, so that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to have a healthy relationship in the present.
© 2010 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <email@example.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.