Dear Ms. Behavior:
I’m a 41-year-old gay man who used to weigh nearly 400 pounds—not an easy way to live in gay male culture. I now weigh 198.
I lost it naturally (without gastric bypass), but after the huge weight loss, I was left with extra hanging skin. I had to have several cosmetic surgeries, including a tummy tuck, and procedures to remove extra skin from my arms, my thighs, and even my face.
After years of solitary misery, I finally am interested in having a relationship. However, I’m scared, and need advice.
If I’m out on a date, and it’s going well, should I warn him about my scars (across my middle, under my nipples, on my arms and thighs, and behind my ears) before taking my shirt off? How about my pants?
My friends say I should, but won’t that just put the guy off?
Dear Former Fatty:
No need to waste your date’s perfectly good boner by issuing a warning about your scars.
And if you’re thinking you should preempt the action with a confession even earlier, think again. If you mention your surgery over dinner, you’re risking your impending frottage by frightening your date into envisioning something far more dramatic than what you actually have.
Granted, if you had something communicable, you’d need to share the information before getting naked. Your scars, however, are your own. Your date may notice them, but he’s unlikely either to catch them or to freak out.
Your case may be more extreme than most, but most people your age have begun to experience their share of bruises, breaks, illnesses, surgeries, and general physical distress—if not warts and herpes—or the effects of emotional battle scars, like having endured numerous breakups and deaths.
Ms. Behavior doesn’t mean to sound all Mary Poppins about it, but the truth is that someone will love you for your scars and for your former-flabby essence.
You used your immense strength of character to lose all that weight, and change your life. That says something really important about who you really are. Now, it’s just a matter of skimming through the fat (in the dating world) to find that person.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
Six months ago, my friend, Sally, was dumped by her partner of 20 years, Joy. Sally has been a total sloppy mess, crying in my living room every day. The worst part is that Joy left Sally for another friend of ours, Monica, who left her girlfriend, too.
However, 20 years is a long time. Now, Joy is coming back around to try to patch things up with Sally, who is willing to take her back. It’s good to see Sally smile, but it’s sad that she so easily is won back by Joy the Cheater.
Sally has made only one demand of Joy, which is that she stop seeing Monica immediately. All seemed OK until yesterday, when I got a phone call from Monica, who is distraught that Joy is going back to Sally. In a moment of panic and sorrow, Monica told me that she and Joy still see each other once a week, and have sex.
I don’t know what to do with the information. Monica probably wants me to tell Sally, so that Sally will end her reunion with Joy, and come back to Monica.
Should I tell Sally? Should I keep it to myself?
You and your gaggle of friends don’t do much to contradict the notion of Lesbian Drama, do you?
Ms. Behavior normally advises her readers to stay far away from these domestic disputes, and, at all costs, to avoid being a snitch.
However, your allegiance in this instance is so clearly to Sally that it seems you really must inform her, regardless of the consequences.
Not telling your very close friend this news would be a far bigger betrayal (and risk to your friendship) than telling her. She may, of course, be upset with you—they don’t call it “killing the messenger” for nothing—but let’s hope she ultimately will view your gesture as protective.
More advice: See if you can find a stable friend or two who doesn’t engage in the high art of dyke drama.
© 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.