Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Transitions, Femme Baldness, and "INEXTINGUISHABLE PASSION"

Okay, A Queer Chick, here goes: my partner is a trans woman. When we met she was a man, and we've been together 15 years now. She transitioned about four years ago, and we went through all kinds of shit with therapy and counselling and anti-depressants and all that. We're pretty stable now, good communication, doing good overall. I love her even more than I loved him (as a man and a frustrated trans woman, she could be a definite asshole with the misdirected anger and all). But here's my problem: I don't know how to have sex with another woman! Her libido took a dive with the transition; we've fooled around a few times, with a couple of toys, so we do know we can both get each other off, but it's awkward. Also I guess I feel like it's up to me — our friends call me an honorary lesbian, but honestly, I've never crushed on a woman or had fantasies about lady sex before. But I love my lovely partner, love spending time with her, think she's beautiful and sexy. I feel like I need a twelve-step manual or something.  Help!

I'm glad you wrote in to ask for help when you needed it, but first I want to give you huge props everything you've already accomplished — to wit, a 15-year relationship that's survived all the normal hurdles plus the added stress, uncertainty, re-negotiation, and general chaos that comes with navigating a transition. The fact that you've stuck it out and are still together means that both you and your partner are on some next-level emotional maturity shit, and should probably be writing this column for me. But you're not, so we venture forth.

For starters, you don't have to call yourself an “honorary lesbian” — you and your partner are both ladies, you can go ahead and call yourselves lesbians if you feel like it. I mean, you don't have to. It's cool if you feel like that word doesn't accurately describe your sexual identity, especially since she's the only woman you've ever even thought about being with, but I want you to know that it's available to you if you want it. Because I think that having access and connection to the lesbian community where you live (there is one, even if it's just three chicks who get together for coffee once a month) could be really useful to you both. You need to know that other people have been through the same thing, or if there's no one nearby who's been through the same thing, you at least need to know that other people have had similar experiences and you and your partner are not total, alone-in-the-world freaks. You could use a friend or two that you can call when you and your partner are fighting and be like “Ladies, goddammit, am I right?” And I think the best way to go about that is for you to go out and make friends with some dykes.

Of course, it's possible that you are already friends with some dykes. Either way, let's jump ahead to the real meat of your question: the sex stuff. I wish you had told me a little more about what your naked times were like before your partner's transition — that could be a good jumping-off point for getting things back up to speed. If you two were getting sweaty and multi-orgasmic five times a week in the good old days, it wouldn't be a bad idea to start with what you used to enjoy, and go from there. (Yes, two ladies can do anything that a lady and a dude can do. Yes, anything.) It might feel different to your partner now that her body has changed (if it has) due to hormones and surgery, but experimenting with what used to get you off together may spark some of the chemistry you had before her sex drive stalled.

You may also want to check out some queer porn, the kind of thing that is made for queers and by queers and features lesbian sex more interesting and real than the two-femmes-fingering-each-other-with-inch-long-nails nonsense you tend to see in mainstream “lesbian” porn. Crashpadseries.com and NoFauxxx.com would probably be good places to start. If you can find some queer porn with trans women in it, even better (commenters, any recommendations? I know some of you filthy-minded folks will come through for us). If this sounds like a good idea, try watching some smut with your partner, and seeing whether either of you are turned on by anything you weren't expecting. You're not trying to learn fancy tricks to copy — you're just trying to get a feel for what gets you going, and how her (or your) desires have changed.

The next time you start fooling around, don't focus on orgasms so much as how it feels to be together. You already know you can get each other off with toys if you need to, but this isn't about that — this is about getting past the awkwardness and back to that place where you can't get enough of each other. So take your eyes off the finish line for a few minutes while you stop and smell the girl-on-girl action. What turns her on? What turns you on? What feels romantic and fun to you both? Don't put a lot of pressure on yourselves to get it exactly right out of the gate, or indeed ever. Allow yourselves to relax, to giggle, to say “hold up, that feels weird, can you move your leg?” This doesn't have to be a porno-perfect adventure in bedframe-smashing. It just needs to be fun, and comfortable, and honest.

Don't think about “how to have sex with a woman.” Think about how to have sex with your partner, your special beautiful sweet unique partner you're crazy about. You don't have to be a good lesbian, or any kind of lesbian at all. You just have to be with her.

I shaved my hair off a while ago, and I love it. One of the things I love about it is that I can dress more femme and still feel comfortable. But I feel like I often come across as accidentally more butch than I might want to be on any given day. I have dark glasses, so eye makeup is not a real solution for me. I am pretty booby and I wear skirts most days, but some days I just want to wear comfy jeans and still femme it up. Halp?

Girl, earrings. That is like How to Rock a Shaved Head and Still Look Femme 101. Invest in some big, dramatic, shoulder-scraping earrings, and you will look edgy and gorgeous even when the rest of your outfit is jeans, a t-shirt, and some beat-up cowboy boots. Do the trendy huge-dangling-feathers thing, or try some classic hoops — whatever feels right for your style; any way you go, it's gonna look amazing.

Jewelry in general is a good way to femme up a casual look — statement necklaces, chunky bracelets, an exciting ring — although none of these things will give you the same striking silhouette as a really awesome pair of earrings. You can also add a little bit of lipstick if you want to give a girlier face.

And of course, just because you're wearing jeans doesn't mean you have to be slumping around looking like everything else you own is in the laundry. A cute lacy camisole looks great with jeans (and also emphasizes your booby frame, thus sending non-verbal messages of “Hello, girl over here!”), or a fitted blouse, or a soft pretty shrug over a basic T-shirt, or, or, or ... there are a ton of options. Just make sure your jeans are clean and well-tailored, and that you have adorable yet comfortable shoes peeking out from underneath, and you will be totally fine.

Hey, queer chick! Fellow queer chick here, looking for some advice ... I have an amazing girlfriend. We've been together for over a year and a half, and in all this time we've rarely ever fought (like, really. I can't think of any major arguments and we have never yelled at one another), we've always been there for each other, and she makes me happier than anyone I've ever known. She is my best friend and I love her very much. She is also my first girlfriend/serious relationship. While I'm still attracted to guys, right now I can't see myself, nor do I want to be, with anyone else, guy or girl.

There's only one serious problem. After almost four years of my family knowing about my queerness, they are no more accepting than they were back in high school. Specifically, my mom is still extremely angry at me. We mostly try to ignore the issue, but every now and then something reminds her and it turns into an enormous shouting match and she says really, really hurtful things to me. (Such as, I'm ruining her life/I made her start smoking again/I'm not her daughter anymore, etc.)  I know some people might just write my mom off as a homophobic, mean person, but it's more complicated than that.  She's generally a great person, and a great mom.  She's had a lot of bad things happen to her in her life, and while I don't think it's fair that she might take that out on me, I'm not willing to end our relationship over this ... I mean, she's still my mom and all.

Also, my father passed away this past summer, which obviously was and is a big, horrible, sad thing, and my grandmother's really sick right now, too ... basically, I REALLY don't want to lose any more family members at this point in my life. I've tried a lot of different methods to ease the tension with my mom, including writing her letters explaining how I feel, talking with her in a calm manner (for as long as she'll let me), obviously we've also talked in a not so calm, shouting kind of way. I've tried hiding any trace of my girlfriend/general queerness in hopes she'll ignore it (and I go to great lengths to do this), but nothing seems to work.  At this point it really just seems like she's not going to accept this part of my life anytime soon. The rest of my family is generally unaccepting, too, so I don't really have any allies I can enlist ,either.

The thing that makes me feel even more guilty is that my girlfriend is the most understanding person ever when it comes to all of this! She never holds it against me and helps me out in any way she can, because she knows that, if there was any way I could, I'd change the situation in a heartbeat. My girlfriend is so wonderful and, believe me, I recognize this and know that not everyone would be willing to deal with all the crap I go through with my mom and she ends up going through as a result. I'm beginning to worry that it's not fair to my girlfriend to make her go through all this (did I mention the fact that she's a GREAT person?!) and that she deserves to date someone whose family she can actually meet.

Of course, when I say this to her she just says that she doesn't care and loves me, but I still feel like a big jerk. And then I worry about the future, namely that my family will NEVER accept me and I'll have to choose and then what do I do? What does my girlfriend do? I try to just take things one day at a time and remember that we (girlfriend and I) are happy now, but the whole thing's just a big mess. I have lots of supportive friends who help me out, but they don't really know what I should do, either. So I guess my question to you is, what do I do? Should I just accept that my family will never accept me and sometime in the future I might have to choose between my girlfriend and my family? Should I cut off ties with my (kind of abusive) family even though I don't want to? Should I keep doing what I'm doing right now, which is neither? Help, please.

Let's set one thing straight: your mom is a homophobic, mean person. I'm really sorry, but she is. It's not more complicated than that. There is no set of extenuating circumstances that can turn a kind, queer-friendly person into a shouting, abusive homophobe. If she is mean when she's under a lot of stress, she's mean, period. I'm deeply sorry for all the loss you and your mother have been through, but here's the thing: many people have endured great tragedies without becoming awful to everyone around them. There's a difference between being snappish and being cruel, and I think you know that, and you also know that your mother is way the hell out on the wrong side of that line.

Now, you can absolutely decide that you're willing to put up with her verbal abuse and homophobia in order to maintain your relationship with her. No one gets to make that decision for you. You can choose to forgive her many faults, or overlook them, because you think cutting her off completely would hurt worse. But you have to be honest with yourself and stop making excuses. Stop telling yourself that it's not that bad, or that it's just because she's had a hard-knock life. Your relationship isn't worth much if the only thing holding it together is your refusal to face how bad she really is. So go ahead and say this out loud, or at least in your head: “My mother is homophobic and verbally abusive.” Now that you've acknowledged that, what do you want to do about it?

It seems balls-out absurd to me that you are even for a second considering throwing over your loving, supportive girlfriend in favor of your mean, nasty, awful mom, but then it seems balls-out absurd to me that some people wear black shoes with brown pants, so whatever, it takes all kinds. I suppose it's possible that sometime in the future your heinous family members really will lay down an ultimatum — be celibate for the rest of your life, or be disowned — and I fervently hope that when you get right down to it you'll realize that you need to take the Road Less Closeted and tell your mother to piss off.

For right now, however, no one is forcing you to make that choice, so, you know, you don't have to make it. You can keep doing exactly what you have been doing. I know you feel bad that your amazing girlfriend doesn't get to meet your family, but let me soothe your worried mind by telling you that after more than a year of hearing your psycho-mom stories, meeting your family is the absolute last thing she wants to do, ever. As difficult and painful as it is, your family situation is not a dealbreaker for her — she's willing to work around it because she loves you and wants to be with you. No relationship is ever 100% issue-free, so please stop beating yourself up for not being able to offer her that. If she wanted to avoid all drama forever she'd just stay at home with her vibrator.

Ultimately, the person you're hurting the most by maintaining contact with your mother is you — and the person you'd hurt the most by cutting her off would also be you. All you can do is decide which pain is the one you can live with. It breaks my heart that your mom has put you in this position. I hope someday she comes around.

Me: a lesbian with less than no interest in dating men. "Fred": this guy I thought was just a pal. We're not particularly close (to wit: he isn't aware that I'm not interested in guys. We basically just talk about comics), but I recently learned from a third party that he has harboured some sort of INEXTINGUISHABLE PASSION for me during the whole time we've known each other. That's pretty weird right? Five years of hanging out once in a while and not once has he mentioned anything about this, but apparently he's been talking to all of his friends about it.

So my question is, how much courtesy do I owe "Fred" in this situation? I know just telling him I'm not into guys provides a pretty easy out, but honestly I'm really creeped out/annoyed by the whole five-years-of-pretending-to-be-casual-acquaintances thing, and ignoring him until he goes away sounds like a solid option. But then I'd have to deal with him if we happen to run into each other (fairly likely). This is a problem only you can solve, Queer Chick. What should I do?

I think you're being awfully hard on Fred here, darlin'. I know it's a little weird to find out that someone's feelings for you go deeper than you realized, but come on, who among us has been unflinchingly up-front with every single person we've ever wanted to see naked? Who among us says absolutely everything they're feeling the second the thought crosses their heart/vagina? And Jesus, how off-putting would it be if somebody actually did?

I mean, you've known this dude for five years and you've never even mentioned to him that you fuck girls, so it doesn't seem fair to expect that he would pour his heart out about his crush. It's kind of a huge leap from “hey that comic book store you like is having a big sale” to “I want to make out with you and also marry you and how do you feel about naming our first daughter Julie?” Confessing his ardor would be laying himself on the line in a big way — especially since, although he doesn't know you're gay, he probably senses that you have no interest in doing any kind of sex to him. He hasn't tried to creep on you or manipulate you into unwanted smoochies, so I think it's fair to say that he's kept his interest a secret not for sketchy reasons, but because he knows he has no chance and doesn't want to face a flat-out rejection. This dude has done nothing wrong, so try to let go of being annoyed at him. Drop a mention of the girl you're banging into your next conversation and get back to being bros.

Previously: Nagging Attractions and the Strategies of Lesbianism Convention (SLC).

Lindsay Miller knows everything (and is now on Twitter!). Do you have a question for A Queer Chick? (300-word max, please.)

Photo by Anna Sedneva, via Shutterstock

206 Comments / Post A Comment

"Honorary Lesbian?" Baby Girl, your friends are mistaken. Your kickass partner is not an "honorary woman," she's a woman. That's some insulting shit right there. You're 2 women, together, and you can call yourself whatever the fuck you want, and nothing should be "honorary."

Porn Peddler

@S. Elizabeth Raising my lighter to this being the first comment, and to you, and to this comment, and hope you are seeing one of those sexy, sexy ladyfriends of yours tonight.



@S. Elizabeth Possible misreading?

"our friends call me an honorary lesbian" -- To me it sounds like her friends aren't saying anything about LW1's partner not being a woman (or being an "honorary woman"), but rather they're saying that LW1 herself is now a lesbian of sorts/if she wants to be, despite her not being attracted to women historically or in a broad sense.

It might not be the best word choice, but it doesn't seem insulting or disrespecting of her partner's transition.

Blackwatch Plaid

@special_boots Yeah, that's how I read that as well. It seems like LW1 is in the same position that a lot of bi folks end up in when they date/marry those of the same gender. They personally aren't gay, but their relationship is, so they're "honorary."


@special_boots That's the way I read it too, though I totally get the other reading as well since way too many people are unwilling to except transwomen as what they are...women.


@special_boots I think that IS what S. Elizabeth is saying. There's nothing "honorary" about her partner being a woman -- she's a woman. And therefore her partner isn't an "honorary" lesbian -- she's a lesbian (you know, if she wants to identify as that). Calling LW1 an "honorary" anything is to imply that her partner is not quite fully a woman. Otherwise, why the modifier?


@S. Elizabeth I think her friends are calling her an 'honorary' lesbian because she actually doesn't identify as one but is in a relationship with a woman, not because they consider her partner only an 'honorary' woman'.


@Killerpants I also read it as being a reference to the LW being a big ol' straight chick who managed to fall for and marry another woman anyway. But given the common derision of trans women as "not really" women, it seems like something to avoid.


@Emby Why the modifier, because LW1 (just going by her letter) doesn't really seem to identify as a lesbian, and certainly she's never done so before. The "honorary" (in my reading!) isn't because her partner is somehow "not quite fully a woman"; it's because LW1 is only a lesbian for this one particular woman, whom she initially met and fell in love with as a man (per LW1's description).

The idea isn't that LW1 would be somehow less of a lesbian because her partner is a transwoman, but instead that she 1) has never identified as a lesbian or had any experience with attraction to women; 2) fell in love with a woman *via* falling in love with someone whom she first (and for a long time) knew as a man.

I'm not at all arguing about how LW1 *ought* to define herself; that's up to her! I just don't get from her letter that her friends mean (or imply) any slight to her partner with that particular moniker.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@special_boots That's how I read it too.

dracula's ghost

@special_boots agreed!

@special_boots I just don't think it's very accurate. I mean, would you call a straight woman who was all "omfg, I have found the love of my life, she is a woman, she is who I will be with, I never thought this would happen because I only bang dudes!" an honorary lesbian?

I'm not saying LW is a lesbian or isn't -- it's that this new signifier has a modifier that implies "not quite, close but no cigar, you can join the group but you're not really there." And that label (lesbian, honorary or not) has to do with the gender of LW's partner when it is applied in that context -- by friends, by other queer ladies, by the world in general, i.e. when it is not a proclamation of one's own identity and claiming a place in the world. LW didn't say whether she was planning on identifying in any way because of her partner's gender and transition -- and that choice to do so is her own -- but I find the implications of "honorary lesbian" to be pretty awful. It reads as not acknowledging LW's partner as a woman.

I get that they probably applied the term because hey, straight might not fit the bill anymore? But putting aside how problematic it is to impose your own understanding of someone's sexual identity on to them, "honorary lesbian" seems fraught with problematic dismissals of trans* identities.

-a queer femme chick with Lots Of Feelings

@Third Wave Housewife I'm, uh, staying in my own bed tonight for the first time in a while. Lady friend needs to get her school work done but WEEKEND TIIIIIME will involve snuggles.


@S. Elizabeth When I started dating my now-husband, the first non-queer dude in my life for over a decade, my friends started calling me an honorary hetero. I thought it was cute. But I still identify as queer.


I think that situations like this "honorary lesbian" situation are exactly why the word "queer" was coined.

I had a relationship with someone who was butch and female-bodied when we met, and who, during our relationship, realized that he needed to begin his transition to being male-bodied.

I'll admit that his transition did fuck with my perception of my own sexuality for a little while, *especially* since I had identified as straight before meeting him when he was female-bodied. When I fell off the Straight Wagon, I fell hard, and I fell for a person who I thought was a woman. Therefore, when he began to listen to and actualize his desire to transition, it screwed with my head for a while. Was I actually...straight? Had I been straight all along? Was this newly realized boner that I had for woman really, like,...a faux-boner? Was it terrible that I loved and was attracted to female aspects of him, as well as the masculine elements that had first attracted me?

In my personal experience, being the partner of someone who is transitioning is difficult. Really difficult. Part of that difficulty can come from feeling that you have to question your own orientation because of your loved one's actions.

This is why the term "queer" resonates so strongly with me. It doesn't force me to define my sexuality based on the genitals or presentation of the person that I'm attracted to. It means something different for every person. For me, it means that I'm attracted to butch women, androgynous women who skew toward the masculine end of androgyny, and butch men. For the LW1, she could identify as queer because she's not attracted to all women, but IS attracted to her female partner. "Queer" allows us to define ourselves based on our own loves and our own preferences, not the genitals or presentation of our partners.


@wee_ramekin <3 u rammie! well said.


@S. Elizabeth

But shouldn't there be a DMV-style lesbian authenticating agency, where you go through a 6-point identity verification before you're issued a card with an unflattering photo?


I guess I wish there were one, but only because I know the process would occasion some amazing vanity plates.


@atipofthehat Duh. It's going to have to include biometrics of some kind. Magical dimension and timeshifting ones.

@dieAuflaufformchen <3


@S. Elizabeth Oh, you poor thing. Are there are least enough pillows around so that you can do the pillow-exchange thing or, better yet, build a pillow replica of your lady-friend to sleep-snuggle until the weekend?

More covert than using my facebook account

@glittercock Or a lot of bi/queer women end up in when they end up with a guy instead of the girls they'd previously dated. I'm happy to be an honorary straight for his (conservative) family, but for my friends I'm definitely still queer, thanks. (The boy is totally on my side with this, btw.)


@wee_ramekin AMEN.

I think about the Cynthia Nixon thing all the time. I'm starting to feel like the labels and names are just sort of a surface scum floating on top of ever-changing things below. I'm sorry that sounds gross, but it's HOW I FEEL INSIDE ALL THE TIME. I mean... I am glad to have found 'queer', because labels are useful to describe ourselves to the world and each other. But the less I need to identify with one thing or another, the better I feel about the world and myself.

@More covert yes. I am the opposite of what glittercock said - we are in a hetero relationship. But we're both queer. So it's a queer relationship. Except very few people know that, since we pass as straight. That's fine, it's none of their business, but everyone here knows how my hackles bristle at the 'hasbian' thing. You stay what you are even when what and who you do doesn't line up with that - straight people can seem gay, gay people straight, or bi or whatever. And only you can know if you are 'really' any of those things.

Jane Dough

@S. Elizabeth

She doesn't consider herself a lesbian because she isn't attracted to women. She happens to love this particular woman DESPITE her being a woman, not because of it. That's why she's an "honorary lesbian" and not just "lesbian."

Drink All the Coffee

@Craftastrophies "I'm starting to feel like the labels and names are just sort of a surface scum floating on top of ever-changing things below."

I find this not gross, but weirdly beautiful. I've drawn similar conclusions about being queer, feeling queer, and claiming queer as an ALL THE TIME OUTSIDE WORD for my ALL THE TIME INSIDE FEELING. My relationships are queer because I'm queer, whether I'm with another queer woman, a queer man, a straight man, or a transperson dealing with trans stuff. (P.S. That stuff is hard and complicated and LW1 sounds like an amazing partner!)

I'm mostly just really really glad that there are all these other queer 'Pinners, esp. since I'm living in a fairly homophobic Texas suburb and need all the community I can get.


@Drink All the Coffee Aw! Thanks. I like the 'all the time outside word' turn of phrase. Very accurate. I like 'queer' because it's the first word I have ever been comfortable telling strangers that I am. If I am comfortable with someone and the subject comes up, we can talk about all the things under the surface. But I am relieved to have found a word that I can throw to strangers to keep them happy. I'm queer. Whatever that means. I'm so happy I don't have to pretend to be straight anymore, which I did for years because I knew I wasn't gay or bi, so that was my only option, right? (I think I just accidentally came out to an old friend because I forgot she didn't know. She took it well.)

I am seriously so impressed with LW navigating the trans stuff. It's all so tricky and complicated and easy to get confused in.


is amazing.. Pretty deep! Love it@t


Aw AQC you da bomb. All great answers as always, but also the last one is very applicable to something I'm going through right now (although I have a little lot of sympathy for the "Fred" of my situation) and it's always good to have a reminder to be kind to the people who unrequitedly are into us! Ain't nothing worse than that.


@redheaded&crazy Exactly - always nice to have a reminder that, as a species, we're all jackasses just doing the best we can, and we should do our best to be kind to all the other jackasses.


@redheaded&crazy Unrequited love is truly the worst, and I echo your sentiment that a little compassion is the best solution here, especially since Fred isn't being a creeper.


I've had Fred's and I've been a Fred. Life would be a happy circle of Fred's if only the Fred's matched up.


@redheaded&crazy All Freds dream that their secret crush is a Fred for them in return. If only it happened more often I feel there would be a lot less sad secret Freds sobbing in corners. Or is sobbing in corners something only I do when I'm Fredding for a person who isn't Fredding for me?


@megancress Oh man I am so excited I am going to start using Fred as a verb in my real life.


@BattyRabbit Nominating "Fred" to be an official Hairpin Term a la Bob and Eli. Is there a second?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I second! Partly because a friend of mine and I coined the term "Paul" (as in, "I'm getting Pauled" "He's totally Pauling me") to refer to those people who like you, but CAN'T follow through, but flirt with you ANYWAY and lead you on.

We can come up with a whole pantheon of proper-names-as-relationship-patterns!


@allinmycar This is a perfect statement. I am going to print it out and read it everyday as a reminder to try to be kind to all the other jackasses.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I am against this motion, as I can only view the proper term to be "Wesleyed." From that standpoint, "Fredding" is a different thing entirely.


LW3, like QC I also fervently hope you will distance yourself from your mother as much as possible. The relationship sounds toxic to your well-being. Also, please consider seeing a counselor; your girlfriend is very supportive but it sounds like you need another person to talk these very serious issues over with. Best of luck!

Faintly Macabre

@Gussie Fink-Nottle I second the seeing a counselor. Also, I think it's crazy to get rid of the girlfriend if she's great and the LW loves her! If she's great, she will understand, as long as LW doesn't try to excuse her mother/family's hurtful words and behavior to her, especially if that behavior is eventually directed at the girlfriend. That's been one of the thorniest areas with my abusive grandmother--it's not our fault that she's abusive, but when some family members try to take what she says as helpful advice, or dismiss how hurtful and unwarranted it is, that's when big problems happen.

Drink All the Coffee

@Gussie Fink-Nottle I third seeing a counselor. For everybody. Counseling can be magical.


@Gussie Fink-Nottle I fourth seeing a counselor.

Maybe I'm projecting here, but it sounds like this letter-writer's awesome girlfriend is probably finding herself in the position of being the LW's primary support surrounding this issue. It's draining to be the sole or primary source of support for an issue as huge as this that ties into sexuality, family-relations, abusive/unhealthy communication patterns etc. It's even more draining because the LW's problem does, tangentially, hurt the girlfriend as well -- after all, right now she is the embodiment of her partner's mother's disgust. It's got to be really hard for the girlfriend to hear the things that the LW's mother says to the LW, both because it's terrible to see your partner in such pain AND because she herself is being insulted and put down.

I'm not saying that the LW should stop talking to her girlfriend about this issue by any means. But I do think it would help the LW to have a counselor who she can talk to about this who can both hear her and then professionally support her in finding healthy ways to deal with her mother's homophobia. It will not only help the LW, but will take some stress off the LW's girlfriend to no longer be the primary source of support.


"Your mom is a homophobic, mean person. I'm really sorry, but she is. It's not more complicated than that."

This, this, one thousands times THIS. It took me a long time to realize sanity is sanity, and it's important. It doesn't matter if the crazy-makers are blood-related. Trying to diminish the effect that has on your mental well-being by excusing it with "But she's my mom" doesn't work ever. Your sanity is important, and it doesn't matter who's fucking with it. If they are, you must distance yourself. Your mom is supposed to love you NO MATTER WHAT. If her love is contingent on your sexual preference, she sucks as a mom. End of story.


@kayjay Plus, I think it has to do with that crazy-making thing of being driven to accept outrageous things as "normal". It's not normal to have to beg for love and acceptance from your mother, especially when you have done NOTHING to hurt her. It's not "normal" just because it's the way it is. Her mother is being so, so wantonly cruel. You can't negotiate with someone who is offering you nothing.


@leastimportantperson Amen. I cannot imagine making my daughter feel like shit because of who she is. She is my daughter, and I love her no matter what. That's what I signed up for when I got pregnant, and that is what I will provide to her until the day I die. THAT is normal. What LW3's mother is doing is not normal in the slightest.


@kayjay <3 There can't be enough of this in the world!


@kayjay Yes, yes, 100 million times yes. "But she's my mum" goes both ways - and no matter how old you get, she will always be older and will always be your parent. That means it is HER responsibility to be understanding and grown up, and make allowances for YOU.

This bit, too: "You can choose to forgive her many faults, or overlook them, because you think cutting her off completely would hurt worse. But you have to be honest with yourself and stop making excuses." LW, no one can tell you what to do. If you don't want to be the person who cuts your mother off, then I totally understand that. But don't buy into the story that if you just act right, she will be the mother you wish she was, that she should be, that she sometimes pretends to be. She is not that mother, or that person, and no one can change that but her. And she doesn't want to!

Here is the one thing my therapist told me that helped the most. Children put themselves through hell to love their parents, and to get love in return. Look up that study with the monkeys with the wire mothers. If you have reached a point where you cannot find love for your parents, or you have love but no liking, that will be your fault, or because you are a bad person. That is not how it works. You are NOT a bad or broken person for feeling that way, you are a person trying to survive.


Fantastic answer to #4. Unrequited love kept contained is never a reason to lose a friend. As long as there's no getting drunk and then attempted humping on the dance floor (no this hasn't happened to me, why do you ask?) Then let him go as he's obviously a nice guy who knows when not to chase.


@Biketastrophy The only thing that makes me kind of give it the side-eye is the fact that they don't know each other very well, but this dude's still managed to keep a torch burning for all this time? Like, what's that actually based on?


@wharrgarbl Ugh as someone who had unrequited torch burning for a guy i barely knew for like, way way way too long, somehow it seems like the less it's based on, the longer it burns for? Ahhh that probably makes no sense, it's just like, a totally indescribable and FRUSTRATING phenomenon!

Also probably a product of me needing to get out more (at the time). On the other hand (this is directed at the "Freds" and past-me and whoever in the world) people need to be proactive about their unrequited love! Either say something and deal with the flat-out rejection, or recognize the implicit rejection and ... you know ... set up an okc account or something.

On the other other hand, part of me wonders if unrequited love sometimes comes from a place of people who consciously or more likely subconsciously are not ready for a real relationship and so they ...

oh I don't know. settle down there sigmund.


@wharrgarbl Honestly I've been on the torch burning side of it, had a crush on a girl through high school and she was completely oblivious to any of my advances so eventually I gave up. Kept our friendship going, but the flame still burned.

Though I did know that she liked dudes. Not sure how you can call someone your friend and they don't know that much about you, maybe they just run into each other on new comic book day?


@redheaded&crazy It makes sense insofar as the flame can burn for a lot longer when it's half for a person that doesn't exist outside your own head rather than a person whose flaws you're familiar with, or a person where a lot of your interactions are underlining the unlikelihood of a hook-up. Which I guess is kind of why I'm giving this the side-eye. Like, I don't think "Fred" has an inextinguishable passion for LW#4 so much as he has an inextinguishable passion for a fictitious person loosely based on LW#4. Which we're free to have, because we're human, but talking about it to all their mutual friends seems like kind of a dumb and/or passive-aggressive move.


@wharrgarbl It's also totally possible that the third party is exaggerating this "INEXTINGUISHABLE PASSION". Or misinterpreted the guy's innocent hyperbole as obsession. . .like, I might say "OMG HE'S SO CUTE I WANNA MARRY HIMMM" about every vaguely cute boy with a beard and a nice smile that I meet, but if I go years as acquaintances without doing a damn thing about it, I don't actually mean that. I can easily imagine a conversation that went "Oh you know LW right?", "Oh yeah she's so cute, I have such a crush on her" that turned into "DUDE IS MADLY IN LOVE WITH YOU, LW". Because people love drams.


@wharrgarbl We only have the LW's letter to go on, so there of course be a lot more to it, but from her initial statement, it said "Fred" mentioned it to one of her friends. (She later says "all his friends" thing, but she only singles out that one instance.) Maybe he was drunk and admitted that he had a long-standing crush and things mushroomed out of proportion?

Or maybe he is being dumb and passive-aggressive. Hard to say.


@wharrgarbl hmm good points. definitely agree that he probably has an inextinguishable passion for a fictitious person. I guess the 3rd party thing could have come from two places: "oh god i love this girl and it's driving me crazy and i just have to get it off my chest and tell somebody and hoooooo that was a big relief" or maybe "heyyy maybe if i tell you this, it will get back to her, and if she finds out, then maybe she'll realize she loved me all along, and we can have all the babies!!!"

or you know, many other reasons I suppose. those are the first two that spring to mind for me!


@paddlepickle I do love drams! I would totally be that overexaggerating friend, because I am The Worst. :D


@Biketastrophy Just want to second everyone's responses here to be kind (but firm) with the Freds of the world. I was a Fred to one of my best guy friends for years. When I finally worked up the nerve to ask him out, he very kindly said no, and we had the most awkward conversation ever, and I went home and felt sad for a while. A few years later, we're still really close friends and he has an awesome fiancee and I'm going to their wedding in August. I'm so glad he let me down gently and made it clear that while he couldn't go out with me he still valued me as a friend and as a person.


@redheaded&crazy Don't worry, you make perfect sense! If Crusher doesn't know Crushee that well, and their interactions are more or less the same when they do see each other, Crusher has no idea what Crushee is really like day to day. So Crusher sees only the initial things s/he is attracted to, most likely. And, you know, sometimes people can mistake "wanting to know" a person with "knowing" a person because what they know is all they know... you know? (I just typed "know" so many times.)


He knows that she loves comic books and that he loves her face?

I guess it depends on his behaviour to her. If he makes her feel awkward and is passively pining after her then that's no good but it sounds like she hadnt even noticed until the friends blabbed.
But I completely agree that unrequited crushes are practically imaginary crushes. That's sometimes what makes them fun.

If anyone heard the way I speak about my crushes ("We would be perfectly happy and married if only he knew I lived and breathed!")then I would have to die multiple times and become a super concentrated ghost to get rid of the shame.

Its hard to say to someone 'i dont feel that way' but if you do it in a nice way it should be fine. And like redheadedandcrazy said earlier it's up to the Freds to deal with those feelings in a constructive way.

But anyway crushes are fun. Crushes for everybody! Everyone needs some Fred in their lives.


@teaandcakeordeath Exactly. And if Fred says something (or even if he doesn't) and then becomes disgruntled at the outcome, that's all on Fred. And if their paths don't cross too often anyway, I suppose there's no need to "do" anything and it's maybe the most courteous to just carry on as usual, again unless Fred gets wacky.


Queer Chick, you really do give the best advice ever. God, where were you when I needed solid, awesome, honest, compassionate advice as a teenager?

LW3, please, please do yourself a favor and take QC's words to heart. You will forever regret it if you don't, trust me. I've had too many friends in your situation, and not once have they ever said they were glad they kept prolonging the contact with their awful family members just because they were related by blood.


To LW3, I'd like to second cutting your mom out of your life, at least for a while.

(I feel sort of weird sharing this, so please excuse the complete lack of details)

My mom has always been a difficult person. We have ALWAYS been fought and the fights were always ugly. When I was in college, she used to call me just to tell me that I'm an awful person and a terrible daughter--this was like, once a week. It sucked, it pissed me off, it made me feel worthless.

Eventually I decided that I wouldn't ever let anyone else treat me this way, so I shouldn't let my mom treat me this way. It was a really hard decision to make, but one day I just didn't answer my phone when she called. I didn't call back. I didn't respond to her emails. We had no communication for nearly a year.

When we did reconnect, I told her exactly how I felt. I explained that I was not obligated to have a relationship with her just because she was my mother and that if we can't learn to respect each other, we don't have to know each other. After that, things were a lot better between us. Our relationship was much more genuine.

It's not going to last forever; I'm starting to see signs of my "old" mom popping up. And I know I'm not you and my mom is not your mom, but sometimes you really do have to make the really hard choice in order to preserve your own wellbeing.

Good luck.


@elizabeast That must have been incredibly hard - hat tip to you for standing up and trying to change the situation.


@elizabeast I also have a mean mom, and we have a difficult relationship for a variety of reasons. However, I also have a very close family, and for other reasons, I can't cut her off. Though she's generally respectful around my partner, she's made several horrible comments to me when I see her alone.

When this particular issue comes up, I shut it down right away. If my mom continues to harp on it, I leave. Always. If we can't have a calm conversation about my relationship, I won't have any conversation about it. It's tenuous, but it works for me. This may last forever, but at least she knows she's never going to get me to "change my mind" or whatever she thinks could happen.


@elizabeast I think of mean parents as giant toddlers. They never really gained the tools to navigate the world in any kind of socially acceptable way, and that might not be entirely their fault, but just because they're thrashing and hollering doesn't mean we're obligated to engage with them.

When my parents act up these days, I just disengage. "Oh, he's tantrum-ing again - I guess I'll talk to him in a couple of months." Like toddlers and dogs, with enough consistency & repetition, they start understanding that the thrashing isn't getting them anywhere, and they're much less likely to use it as a tool to get what they want. Good luck to you, with your mom. It sounds like you've come to a good place with that.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@elizabeast I had a similar experience with my mom. The hardest part was that I felt that I had to be the calm, rational one while she got to freak the fuck out about everything. It was like, if I didn't stay rational and calm, I was just giving The Gays a worse name or something. Anyway, props to you; your life if yours.


@elizabeast I just want to say, I respect the heck out of you for setting those boundary lines. Way to go, you!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I did the same. Things really did get better (and continue to be so, so yay!) but damn if that wasn't an awfully hard year.


@elizabeast So this is obviously a different situation, but my dad is very difficult, and probably mentally ill, and was emotionally abusive when I was a kid. I now have a relationship with him, for which I am glad (after a big-time hiatus when I focused on being healthy and setting boundaries and therapy. Boundary-setting and therapy are the best!).

But here's the key thing for me: you don't have to make the choice that it is worth it or not worth it to have a relationship with your parent once. You make that decision all the time. Just because you decided at one point that it was important to you to have that relationship doesn't mean that you can't change your mind. It is a choice you get to make all the time, and you ALWAYS have that power to decide that actually, no, it is not worth it.

I wish you lots of luck and love. It is not easy to have a parent that hurts you.

And don't break up with your girlfriend because your family is crazy.


@elizabeast Wow. That is amazing. I am working on being more explicit with my mother about this kind of thing. The last couple years I've worked on not buying into her crap. This means, for example, that if she says something mean about my sister, I just don't reply. This works surprisingly well. I need to work on saying 'I don't think that's appropriate/true'. But I need to feel stronger and less likely to get sucked into an argument that I can't win. So props to you, you are amazing!

@dtown girl That thing about leaving, always, is so important. Set boundaries, and POLICE them. It's hard work, but it gets easier. I am so bad at boundaries everywhere in my life because of my mother - I set them, don't police them, and then get upset when people violate them. I am getting better and it has made my whole life easier, I tell you.

@aphrabean That toddler metaphor is perfect. That is exactly my mother - sometimes I don't think she has a theory of mind. I think it would be a good way for me to disengage my emotions. Like, you know, it's not her fault but it's also not good for her if I give in. I am stealing that, I hope that's ok!


@elizabeast Kudos to you! I know how hard it is, and it sucks. I felt like an awful daughter at first when I cut my mom off, but we don't owe it to them to put up with abuse.
"Eventually I decided that I wouldn't ever let anyone else treat me this way, so I shouldn't let my mom treat me this way." THIS. This is the point I had to get to with my family. My mom is REALLY good with the guilt (we were really close until I left for grad school, at which point she "made me" feel SO guilty about moving across the country that I hated living in Cali. I was a terrible daughter for abandoning her, etc. At which point I realized being close is good, but, boundaries!) I'm talking to her again after 2 years, but it feels weird... I don't want to let her close enough to hurt me because, like you, I see the old mom come out sometimes.

@aphrabean That is such a great description. So accurate.


@Craftastrophies Of course it's ok! I've found the giant toddler imagery to be really helpful in disarming a parent run amok, especially if you've got some childhood-based triggers. My siblings & I started referring to time-outs, and it really seems to help rectify that crazy-making sense of power imbalance.


@aphrabean It clarifies why a lot of what I've been doing already works, actually. But making it explicit will really help with the way that I deal with it, which is my next step. I've got the damage she does limited, externally, but it still messes me around.

@che I always think of that bit in Pride and Prejudice: 'but it is possible to live too close to ones family, is it not?'


@elizabeast My mom has some bipolar stuff going on, and about the time I was finishing college she decided to stop taking medication and seeing her therapist. The roller-coaster ride commenced, and she starting alternately yelling at me/throwing things/telling me to get out of her house, telling me she loved me more than anything, and hatching this crazy conspiracy theory that I was having sex with MY DAD (gack). Once I moved out I cut her off completely. After a couple of years of receiving occasional desperate attempts to contact me, I offered her restricted access to my facebook page just so she could stay up-to-date on what I was doing, but the crazy letters and the I love you/I hate you stuff recommenced, so I went back to not having any contact at all. I have this fear that people will think I'm a horrible person because I don't talk to my mom, but that's not true, I've found. People get it and they don't look at me disapprovingly and they don't ask for details, and sometimes they say, yeah, I can't deal with my ______ either. And even if it were true and they all thought I was an ungrateful daughter, it would still be worth it, because my life is so much better without all that raging drama.


I also remember once when I was all "oh parents come around once grand kids are in the picture" but was rightfully called out that the kids get put in the middle which isn't fair (plus not everybody wants kids so pinning plans on that, yeah, i can see why this is a bad suggestion) (although I didn't really mean it in that way! but anywayyy)

nevertheless, as much as you don't want to lose more family members, isn't it possible that your mom feels the same way? if you draw the line and after a tirade, say "Mom, that kind of talk is hurtful to me and my girlfriend. It hurts me to do this because I love you and I don't want to lose any more family members but I need to distance myself from my relationship with you for x amount of time."

Losing a family member in this case would swing both ways ... your mom is losing someone too. Sometimes that possibility may cause people to re-evaluate their behaviour.

Also could you remain in contact with your grandmother throughout this? Only in the sense of, still getting to spend time with her while she's still alive, not having to give up that relationship as well, etc ...

Faintly Macabre

@redheaded&crazy I completely agree, though it (of course) depends on the person. My grandmother has major Borderline Personality disorder, and out of three kids, only one is still speaking to her. (My grandfather died a few years ago and had a more run-of-the-mill complicated relationship with his kids.) When people cannot deal with her abuse anymore and cut her off, she flips out about how cruel and unreasonable they are and basically adds to the burden of those who still do talk to her. I really, really hope that LW3's mother is less pathological and more willing/able to care about her daughter's feelings in the end.

Oh! I should add that my parents did stop speaking to them (and letting them see their new granddaughter) for about 2 years a looong time ago, and it did force my grandmother to modify her behavior a bit.


@redheaded&crazy This is a good point, but also be careful that if you draw a line, it's because you mean it not because you hope it has a different effect. I mean, if you say you might distance yourself, that needs to be your aim.

I am wary about sharing too much of my partner's story here, because it's not mine. But when he had kids was when he finally cut his mum off altogether.

@Faintly Macabre Ouch. I'm sorry about your grandmother.

Also, I would tell LW that your girlfriend is not dating you for your family, she is dating you for you. Lots of people don't have family - my partner only has his kids and his dad. Sometimes I feel sad that there aren't more of us, but in other ways it's awesome. And I certainly don't consider it part of the deal that I get an extra family. That's a bonus, or not, it's not why you have relationships.


@redheaded&crazy My mom's current objection to my dating ladies is "but I want grandkids!" (Because calling me names didn't make me date men and resulted in no communication for 2 years, she thinks this tack will work.) I don't even both telling her that I may, in fact, still have kids because then I'd have to say, "But, Bitch, you ain't never going to spend time alone with them because you're toxic as f***."

Yay for borderline parents.


@che There are a lot of reasons that I don't want to get married and have kids. But the idea of working out how to invite all of my family to a wedding, except my mother, is a surprisingly large factor.


This is all wonderful, excellent advice, as usual. My heart breaks for LW3, especially. :( Family is absolutely something that we have the ability to choose for ourselves, and it has nothing to do with shared genetics. I don't want to get all judgmental but I just don't understand what positive things the LW can possibly be getting out of the relationship with her mother.

Porn Peddler

Also, the only contact LW3 should have with her mother should be within the confines of a therapist's office. It is not your job to be part of your mother's support system in trying times if she consistently hurts you. Don't be a martyr. Don't get hung up on the blood between you. Her behavior is unacceptable and if she can't get a handle on it, she doesn't get to have such a patient, loving daughter in her life.

(note that this won't work if the rest of your family thinks you should get over it, in which case, you have an entirely different problem on your hands)


I gotta say, reading about the cute bald-headed LW is making me want to cut off my Rapunzel-like locks.


@heyits big feather earrings and a slightly-grown-out flat top! yes!


@puggle Pre-bowl cut Robyn = yes yes yes yes yes!


@heyits My locks are distinctly not Rapunzel-like, but ditto. Gotta hold out until the end of May and then it's getting alllll shaved off. I will have a Work Wig if that's what it takes.


@heyits I know! Let's raise a glass to the cute short-haired ladies in our lives, whatever their persuasion. Y'all look great!


@MerelyGoodExpectations Thanks ;o)!


@MerelyGoodExpectations Thanks!

Cut your hair off, ladies, seriously, it's awesome.


@MerelyGoodExpectations also, beautiful short-haired ladies, can I borrow your amazing earrings?

Peanut Butter

@heyits I have to say, as a lady without hair and with glasses, any earrings besides modest studs make me look immediately horrible. It's too bold/equally awful on me. Which is ironic because I chose to shave my hair off. Girls with hair pull off earrings way better.


@ilikemints I cut mine into what was supposed to be a page boy type thing when I was 15 and quickly discovered that my very round face meant I looked like the moon in a wig. It saddens me to this day that my hair choices are forever limited because of my spherical face.


@heyits It was meeeeeeeeeee I am LW with short hair! I hope I haven't ruined your illusions :P

I don't own any big earrings because I am afraid of them. And also the last time I had short hair was in high school when I didn't wear them in case I 'looked like a lesbian'. That... um, is no longer a problem? But I am still scared of big earrings. How? How do I do this, where do I start, how do I put them in my ears without feeling like an idiot?! I think wearing Outfits rather than just clothes might help, actually. But I feel like big boobs + no hair + large earrings = little head? Or maybe it just looks that way because I am not used to how it looks on me.

I think the main answer is get over it and try on some earings + get some cuter casual tops. I... uh... grew out of a bunch of my nice tops a while back. I need to go shopping (ugh) for some femmey ones, because when I had long hair I was butching it up more. Lace camisoles sound perfect. Thanks, A Queer Chick! <3


@Craftastrophies I was hoping it was you! You could work up to large earrings? I started with small dangly ones and worked up to bigger and bigger ones and now I don't even care, I'll wear dinner plates. Seriously, though, I have a small head, and large earrings have never made me feel particularly sensitive about it? (Whoaaaa, how did all these question marks get here.)

Lace camisoles are awesome! A great way to do casual-dressy. :) I'm still only recently an Outfit wearer as opposed to a jeans and tees wearer, and sometimes it still confuses me, but it doesn't have to be complicated to be an Outfit. (P.S. I wish I could come to Australia to go shopping with you. I haven't had a friend to go clothes shopping with in aaages.)


@figwiggin I am stalking your blog since you posted it in the other thread. You have GrownUp Lady Outfits DOWN. Amazing. I also wish to go shopping with you - my only shopping friend is my cousin, and now she lives interstate. I might find it less of a hateful experience if I had a buddy with me :)

I am working that out about Outfits. Part of my thinking about it is about buying good quality things. I noticed this with my jeans - now I only have dodgy jeans, but before, my nice, good fitting jeans + cute shoes + acceptable top = outfit. I need to work on feeling more put together, basically.

I recently went through my earring collection and threw out all the ones with missing partners, broken bits, or that were never going to be worn again. It might be time to start building up the collection again. But... shopping. Bleh.


@Craftastrophies So, why can I see your comment in my email, and your profile, but not here?


I struggle with the quality thing. I used to be all about the thrifting, but now I am bigger and work full time, so I don't have time to sift through and also there is less for me. There's less for me in stores, too, and what there is is more expensive. I've just this week decided that means I'm going to have to bite the bullet, because the only straight stores that make clothes to fit me are PRICEY. I've bought two $100 shirts this month. A HUNDRED DOLLARS! They were both interview shirts, but still.

Etsy is a great rec, actually! I forgot about it because I had poor luck buying studs from etsy, they all broke. But danglies I can do! Sexcellent.

The outfit thing is made more difficult by me not having many basics anymore, I think. I mean, I used to have tshirty tops and skirts in basically every colour, I could throw something on and it would work. But I... grew out of them. Sigh. Also, I might need more dresses - I love them because you just throw them on and chose some shoes and WHAM! OUTFIT!


@Craftastrophies Good on you for making that decision! It's a hard one--I feel like a heel for spending that much money on clothes sometimes, but it's quality, and it's important! Investing in good clothing is valuable, and being able to dress yourself and feel good about it is soooooo soooo awesome and undervalued, especially for folks who aren't straight-sized. (I feel kind of weird talking about this, because I'm an in-betweener and I still fit well in a lot of straight-size clothing, and I'm sure a good amount of truly plus-sized folks would roll their eyes at me, like what I know about what it's like, but I align myself very strongly with the HAES/plus/fat community, so...I dunno.)

Anyway, you're worth the investment in clothes that suit you and show off how awesome you are, so keep at it! This will work! You should most definitely report back about any and all good findings you have. (Plus, uh, if you would ever consider it, you should do a guest post on my and Tia's blog with some of your new Outfits! I know you might not want to or anything, but I would be super jazzed and I know Tia would be too.)


@figwiggin Oooh! But my name doesn't rhyme... I would love to, hypothetically, but taking pictures is sometimes an issue. I'll take it under advisement :) Thanks for the generous offer, seriously, I'm flattered!

I'm a tweenie still, but I've gone from solidly tweenie to riiiight on the edge of straight sizes. But everything in plus sized stores is too big or cut wrong. It's still easier than being plus sized, I think? But it's awkward, because sometimes I can look in every clothing rack, straight or plus, and find not a single thing to fit on my body. So frustrating.

But I was doing the look around and I decided that the $80 shirts I was seeing were not in any way worth $80. But the $100 ones were actually a lot better material, better made, better fitting, etc. And I haven't actually paid that much - both were on sale and I had a gift card. So, you know. Still, I felt pretty ill afterwards. That is a LOT of money. But I donated probably $200 worth of tops to the op shop, some of which had only been worn twice. They might have been cheap, but they weren't value for money. They sort of make me feel the way my blue hair did - I've got blue hair/a fancy expensive shirt, bitches! I am amazing, get out of my WAY!

There's definitely an aspect of valuing myself enough to dress well and feel good. Some days I don't care and that's fine, but it's nice to dress well and put effort into yourself. Self care, etc! Also, pertaining to you. I prefer to say 'body acceptance' rather than 'fat acceptance' because while they overlap in my case, the principles apply to all people. I get just as cross when my skinny friend gets told to eat a sandwich as when my fat friends get told to diet. It's not acceptable, and clothing and presenting our bodies is sometimes a challenge, no matter what they look like. So I try hard to emphasise that yes, larger people have specific difficulties in this area, and I would say harder ones, but that doesn't mean that our experiences aren't valid or difficult, too.


@Craftastrophies I'm just oddly shaped, so a lot of the time I have to settle for "close enough," even if it means that the shirt is too baggy but it's long enough (and yet still too tight in the biceps??? what the what), or I have to pull the skirt on over my head because it's got a nice waist height but won't fit over my hips.

Ah, you're so right! It's easy to see it all as thin privilege, and that's an error that I'm working to correct. Basically, passing judgement on anybody else's body = Not Cool. AHHH, I feel like the world is so fucked sometimes, so it's good to be reminded that there are also people out there fighting the good fight, for all the good fights that there are.


@figwiggin Right! I don't have that much thin privilege - still some. but I've got a whackload of hourglass privilege (??) in that I've always been pretty much directly proportional in the way that women are 'supposed' to be. So dresses are easy, they fit top and bottom, and I have a waist to emphasise for 'flattering', should I so choose. Swings and roundabouts.

Also, is it just my arms getting fatter, or have all shirts gotten tinnier arms in the last few years? I got stuck in one the other week, and the store assistant had to help me. It was redonk.


@Craftastrophies My super-specific nice earring recommendation is... Kate Spade. I signed up for emails there and whenever there's a 75% off sale, I speed through and scoop up earrings like it's my job. They're good quality, sparkly without being huge, and I always get compliments.

And yes, shirt sleeves have gotten skinnier. At least, that's what I keep telling myself (and also, cap-sleeved shirts should burn in shirt hell).


@Craftastrophies I have big boobs and no hair, and large earrings worked for me. That's my go-to when I want to look more girly. I think the curviness works to our advantage in looking femmey without hair too. (I'm actually frustrated because I think androgyny is the hottest, and no matter what I wear, I still look femme because of these boobs and hips.) I say buy one pair of cheapish huge earrings and see if it works!

@heyits DO IT! I have seriously NEVER felt as confident as I did after I shaved my head. Which is weird because I'm not a very confident person and you're so exposed without hair, but it did wonders for my self-esteem. I feel BAD ASS.

Drink All the Coffee

@che Seconded! Shave your head. Everybody shave your head! I shaved my head on a whim a few years ago and the same thing happened to me re: the confidence and feeling totally bad ass. I never really got hit on in public until I shaved my head, and then it was like ladies and gentlemen were lining up to slip me phone numbers and rub my skull. I think it's the confidence thing- people are really attracted to confidence.

Conversely, I also got a lot of strangers asking if a) I was a cancer patient or b) I was a white supremacist. NEITHER I'M JUST BALLSY.


As ever, A Queer Chick, you give out wonderful, loving, thoughtful advice. Am I the only one, though, who read a bit more going on in LW1's letter? I could be dead, dead wrong, and I can only imagine the complexity of emotions when your partner transitions to a different gender, but I feel like there was a bit more concern that LW1 didn't really feel turned on by the body her partner now had, and didn't really know what to do about it. I mean, I may think my friend is sexy, objectively, but i don't necessarily want to *do* the friend.

Porn Peddler

@puggle Only since she mentioned that her partner's libido had plummeted would I think this is not necessarily the problem. It could be part of it but mismatched libidos can wreak a very special kind of havoc on a relationship. Though I see where in her letter this is sort of expressed.


@puggle I was wondering the same thing. It's scary to say in so many words when you have been through all of the process with your partner. All those FEELINGS!


@puggle Yeah, I was kind of expecting to see something about that aspect in the response, too. Although, upon some thought, I can see why she didn't address it. Because other than saying something like "break up" or "resign yourself to a lackluster and or non-existent sexlife" I don't know what would be a solution to that unspoken question (i.e. "What if I am no longer sexually attracted to my partner?").
And then the LW doesn't seem to be evaluating that possibility at least for the moment. She seems to still be very in love (if not in lust) with her partner and her actual question is simply for some suggestions on how to have sex with someone in a situation where her natural biological urges* aren't giving her enough to go on.
*of the LW who states that she is generally speaking heterosexual

femme cassidy

@puggle I see where you're at with this, but I'm super wary of making that assumption when the LW didn't come out and say it. I don't want to be like "obviously you're not attracted to your partner anymore!" especially since that could so easily be read as "obviously your partner is not attractive anymore!" I'm taking the LW's word for it that she really does want to sex up her lady, but isn't certain how to go about it.

But for the record, if she HAD written in to say that her desire for her partner had flatlined, my advice would have been really similar--experiment, don't put too much pressure on yourselves, try to re-establish the connection you used to have. In a relationship with the kind of trust, love, and communication that the LW describes, I think that a dip in the libido of either partner is something that can be overcome with patience and compassion and reminding yourselves of why you're together to begin with. Maybe that's overly optimistic, but in that situation--and with a 15-year relationship on the line--I'd say you could do a lot worse than to give it a try.

Porn Peddler

@ormaisonogrande Perhaps this isn't a perfect example, but if anyone on here is a straight lady and a late bloomer it will probably ring true.

Remember the first time you were (consensually, happily) confronted with a grown man's genitalia and expected to do things to it for the purpose of sexual pleasure? Bodies, sadly, aren't very intuitive things. They are, in fact, confusing, even if you have all sorts of fantasies about pleasuring them. You really have no idea what that may or may not entail until you are actually in a situation with one. It takes a lot of fooling around, communication, awkwardness, and patience to both give and get pleasure to/from new types of bodies. In a fifteen year relationship, and one with these circumstances, I can see how it would either be very easy to get past this, or very hard- on the one hand, they have the dedication and connection down, and have definitely overcome some hard shit before, so the difficult conversations and the delicacy of the situation won't be the hardest part of this. However, I'd also think it could be frustrating-- missing the specific sexual connection one used to have with a male partner (without the knowledge that it might have been difficult/not as good for him), and then having to recreate a sexual connection with a female partner could be tough on the LW. There's no contradiction in missing certain things about a male partner while remaining very much in love with the woman that partner has become, but it is tough not to get bogged down in the cognitive dissonance of it.

In short, imagine being totally sexually inexperienced again. Sex might not be fun or intuitive or comfortable for a while. Don't expect it to be, and give it time. You're new at this.


LW1, I just want to give you and your partner mad props for working through something so complicated and fraught. You just seem awesome and Queer Chick's advice is perfect, especially the last line.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

My mother wasn't thrilled when I told her that I am a gay lady. In fact, she wept and told me awful things. With seven years of perspective now, I see she was reacting in panic, but at the time I was lucky to be stubborn and self-assured enough to not take that shit.

My 19-year-old self essentially told her that if she didn't shape up, I'd be burning some bridges because I do have supportive people in my life. It didn't take until My 21-year-old self told her that my new girlfriend (who is still the lady of my life five years later) is important to me, and if my mom wants to see a Right On Top of That, Rose wedding and Right On Top of That, Rose babies, she better get on this awesome train.

It's been rad ever since.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Went a lot better than my coming out at 19! I admire your ballsiness in telling your mom "here's how it's gonna be", because I am non-confrontational to the point where it is a huge detriment. My parents didn't say terrible things or weep (though they were most distinctly Not At All Thrilled), but mostly I just cried a lot and felt the crushing disappointment for months afterward.

I am pleased to say that seven years later, they have stepped aboard the awesome train as well. They'll never be PFLAG group founders, but whatever, I'm just happy I don't have to pretend to be someone else.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Anji Yeah, I'm not entirely sure where that internal fortitude came from, but it wasn't without nasty conversations and gut-wrenching anxiety. My folks won't ever found a PFLAG either; maybe our moms should get drinks together and count themselves lucky that they have children on the Awesome Train Express.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose your 19-year-old self sounds amazing. Such chutzpah! Your current-day-self sounds pretty rad too.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@heyits Ha, thanks! I think 19-year-old me may have had better muscle tone, but current-day me has better hair.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I concur! Drinks all around!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose This is fantastic, and I applaud you at all ages. (And your mom, for getting on the awesome train!)

Drink All the Coffee

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose <3 many kudos! I came out to my mom at 16 (what was I thinking?) and it was scary and tough and emotionally wrecking for a while. I had not yet developed the ability to separate her reaction from my self-worth, and it sucked hard for awhile. One of my goals in life is to write SOMEthing to help queer teenagers in shitty life positions, along the lines of the It Gets Better project, because it is what I so desperately needed as a lost queer teen. Another one of my goals in life is to buy everyone in the world a copy of Kate Bornstein's Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws.


fashion question the first:

-not because i think it's important to categorize everyone, but because i think words and phrases are interesting: what does "hard femme" mean? is the kind of look the bald LW rocking an example? both i and my ex-girlfriend dress pretty girly, with purposeful butch details (eg booby halter sundress with a carhartt jacket; tailored jeans, men's tuxedo shirt, and pearls)--is that an example? FURTHERMORE, are the butch/femme categories mostly fashion-related, or do people use them to refer to personality traits as well? (again, not trying to essentialize anyone, just have had remarkably little exposure to the actual gay communities despite relationships with actual gay girls.)

fashion question the second:



@plonk Pick up a color in the rest of your outfit or accessories. Or black. Anything but brown. Matching your shoes and pants makes you look like a flight attendant from the '70s.


@Clare see, i thought black! but AQC takes issue with black shoes with brown pants, which is why i asked, because i thought brown surely couldn't be right! and i haven't reached the FASHION LEVELS of having shoes in colors other than shades of black and brown.

@plonk Being femme is part of my identity. I'm still femme when I'm naked.


@plonk Gray goes with everything! I don't know the answer to fashion question the first, but I like your style from the sound of things :)


@plonk whyyyy does brown have to be SO gd complicated! sure I have one pair of brown heels, but they are quite tall (aka my nemesis). then I do have a brown coat, but it's really only for fall temperatures. I also don't own any brown pants! I bought the heels to go with the coat! But if I want to wear the coat without hurting my feet what do I do?

most importantly, why did I buy this cute and super conveniently sized bag in brown when I NEVER WEAR BROWN AND I WANT TO USE THE BAG ALL THE TIMEEE...

well. if this doesn't smack of first world problems, i don't know what does.

eta: grey really does go with everything. i love grey.


@plonk I just don't own any brown pants. Problem solved!


@redheaded&crazy Yeah, this is why I try to avoid buying brown. I have one adorable brown and white polka dotted dress, but I rarely wear it because of the shoe issue. What I really need to buy are some great red flats, which would go with the dress and lots of other stuff too.


@thebestjasmine I definitely avoid buying brown as well!/have given all my brown stuff away to my sister who I doubt would even care about fashion conventions.

as for that bag, i wear it totally mismatched with my grey and black coat/non-brown shoes/totally mismatched outfits. the hoorror! THE HORROR! But what can I do, it's perfect for going out. Maybe dye it black? yeah... that'll work...


@redheaded&crazy guys, this issue is being compounded by the fact that i now recall that jane TOTALLY suggested a brown corduroys/black shoes combo in one of her columns. if jane and AQC can't agree on this issue, how can we mortals ever hope to find wisdom??

femme cassidy

@plonk Oh dudes, if Jane and I disagree on a fashion question, go with Jane every. time. You should see the ridiculous kindergartner-dressing-herself-for-the-first-time shit that I wear. And I KNOW I'm the only person who still believes you shouldn't wear black with brown. It's a totally outdated rule and you should ignore it, even though by doing so you will make my head explode.

For the record, I do not own brown pants, but if I did I would probably wear them with pink cowboy boots. So. This is why you should not ask me about clothes.


@plonk Totally depends on what shade of brown. Dark chocolate-y color? Not black. Too almost, but not quite perfectly matchy, and also makes it seem that you're trying to pass of the black as brown or brown as black. In taht situation? Red. Seriously. I love a bold-color shoe (this coming from the lady who has red patent leather oxfords that she wears to work with all black all. The. Time.)

If the brown is lighter, or more khaki, though, black totally works. If it looks purposeful, then it works. If it looks accidental / "eh, these were clearly the only shoes I had in my closet" then no.


@femme cassidy but you gave such good fashion advice to LW2! obviously you're a STYLISH kindergartener dressing herself for the first time.
free-associating: kate beaton on the clothes kindergarteners wore in the 90s


@liznieve also, a good tonal brown shoe is good too... dark brown pants with lighter brown shoes? great! As long as the shapes are modern, etc.



Say—you look like Helen Brown!

:: ducks ::


@thebestjasmine Red shoes are always the answer!

Does Axl have a jack?

@plonk This thread has been incredibly enlightening re: brown clothing, which I own literally none of because I have no idea what to do with it. Not even khaki. But--red shoes! Pink boots! It's a whole new world.


@armyofskanks Brown is a lot less confusing if you think of it as a neutral, and not Brown. Pair any neutrals together and they will look good, and you can still add pops of color. Here is a good example of breaking the "never wear black and brown" rule. There's two or three different browns! navy! black shoes!

Brown coats, pants, dresses etc look great with tans, other browns, grays and nudes! I have brown mocks, brown penny loafers and brown lace-up shoes that would not look out of place in Newsies... all make it into my heavy rotation, especially since I wear an old-school brown Girl Scouts sweater I thrifted a million years ago all the time.


@iceberg Red and pink are always great with brown. Blue is nice too, especially turquoise.


@iceberg These, specifically, are the shoes that I want and keep staring at. I wish they were like $30 less.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

@Fodforever I misread that as "Gay goes with everything!" and made myself giggle.

And, um, now I'm curious about "hard femme" because the phrase sounds so delicious that I want to be one, whatever it turns out to be.


@liznieve Yeah, different browns are good together, I think--especially maybe a lighter one for the shoes, maybe even camel or something? I don't know what kind of pants are happening in this scenario, but I love wearing a... I don't even know what you'd call the color, but I'm thinking of a very '70s-looking pair of Durango biker boots I have... it's almost maybe a mottled beigey-yellow (oy, but that sounds awful).


@Nicole Sauvage@twitter Heehee; that too! Yeah, I feel kinda bad that only one of the questions is getting addressed...


@plonk I am INTERESTED in this question. I am wary of being too labelly, but also labels can be fun and interesting. Since I am the LW, I'd say I feel more like soft butch, if that is an option? But then, idk. I feel like a lot of the butch things I id with are also femme things? Basically, I feel most me if there are balancing forces. Long coiffed hair with jeans and motorcycle boots, or short hair with a frilly dress. I wanna be in a skirt, toting a power drill. And I think a lot of the femme stuff is about being powerful and strong, sometimes in different ways, but balancing being independent and kick arse with being vulnerable and soft. I think maybe that is more the me I want to be/will be some day when I work through my issues. But then there's this being a centre of things aspect to the femmeness I know that I don't get down with. (Am I misreading that? I am not part of an IRL queer community, I don't have many people in my life who know and ID with these words to compare with.)

But I'll leave you with the femme shark manifesto for your consideration http://www.thefemmeshow.com/blog/2008/07/25/femme-shark-manifesto/

Secondly, I don't wear brown with anything much, because I don't like it. But I have these brown cowboy boots. May I wear them with black? I feel like it looks weird but I only HAVE black tights.

Also, navy. Can I wear a navy skirt and a blue top and black shoes? Is that too much blue? Not enough? HOW DO I CLOTHE MYSELF, HAIRPIN.

(PS I was just referencing my robot skirt in the other thread. Dressing like kindergartners 4eva)

Chesty LaRue

@thebestjasmine I have red heels that look similar, and they are the greatest! I am a color person, so I wore them today with a pair of gray pants, a brown and black leopard cardigan and a purple tank under the cardi. But I'd be hard pressed to find an outfit to NOT wear them with. Maybe pink.
Trust me when I say they're an investment you won't regret.

Also, I wear light shoes with brown pants, like I have a cream-colored kitten heel and a cream-and-peach pair.
I also agree with the lighter brown-and black combo.


@plonk I just wore brown pants with black shoes to an interview and I knew there was something off about my outfit! And that is probably why I haven't heard from them yet.


@Piegasm But what if, say, the shoes are black but in shiny patent leather, or they feature something shiny/blingy/eye-catching? Again, I don't know the pants and my brown stuff is on the casual side--a retro-y flared corduroy (where the hell did those go anyway?) and some oversized cargo pants that are actually probably only flip-flop compatible anyway...


@Craftastrophies "Basically, I feel most me if there are balancing forces. Long coiffed hair with jeans and motorcycle boots, or short hair with a frilly dress. I wanna be in a skirt, toting a power drill." YES! I feel way sexier in my skirt if I have no hair, and men's boxer briefs underneath. It feels like just the right amount of genderfuck for me.


@Craftastrophies YES! Navy and other blues work together, plus navy goes well with brown, along with red, green, purple, pink, orange (70's ftw), peachy colours and yellow. I hate tan and beige so they're not my area. I could write a looong article about how to mix your colours.

I like the balance thing you've got going on, there's nothing like a cute little dress with a big pair of DM's.

And on earrings, try getting some cute silly ones first, it's pretty cheap to get some shell ones with an animal printed on them from a market. You can dress plainly and add a pair of earrings and with your cool fuzzy head you'll look put-together.

Also it's mint you shaved your head, I'd love to do it but I know I'd miss my curls too much.


LW3: I am so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds absolutely horrible.
Now, I have never had to deal with anything even remotely similar to this, so maybe my advice will be completely garbage. But from your letter, it sounds like you’re being eaten up by what you perceive as a choice between your mum and your orientation (because it’s not your partner personally that can’t accept– it’s something about you), and you feel like it’s going to come to an ultimatum. But have you considered that it should be the other way around? If you feel comfortable doing this, would it be a good idea to present your mother with a choice? Her daughter or her homophobia.
Ultimatums and threats are in general a bad idea, I know, but it sounds like you’ve gone the patient-and-understanding route and it’s gotten you nowhere. You shouldn’t have to choose between your family or yourself; but she should be able to shelve her prejudices for your sake.


Dearest LW3: I am not A Queer Chick and have no experience with all of those troubles, but I also lost my father this year & my gramma is also very sick, and I want to just send you a big hug and loads of sympathy. You are very brave, and this is tough, tough shit compounded upon other tough shit (doesn't it suck how the Big Stuff doesn't make the Daily Stuff go away? and you've got loads of the Big Stuff.) Lots and lots of hugs and love and courage to you.

Briony Fields

Ohhh, you poor LW3. That situation is just awful. Even when our families are terrible and abusive to us, they are still our families and we still have a deep need to be loved and accepted by them. I understand the drive you have to keep those relationships going in spite of the horrible behaviour. Simply cutting them out is much harder than it sounds.

Perhaps you just need to lay it out to your mom, tell her exactly what behaviour you find unacceptable and make it clear that unless she cuts it out, she will be seeing no more from you. That may pressure her into becoming more of a decent person. It is difficult, but at least then you'd know that you'd done everything possible to make it work.

I second the suggestion of seeking out a counselor. Counseling is amazing and can give you clarity for the complicated things, and the seemingly simple things.


@Briony Fields
Ignoring my mother made an amazing difference in how she treats me, and made it WAY easier to set boundaries when we started communicating again. (She knows no boundaries. Which sucked for me because learning normal adult relationship boundaries AS an adult was hard for me.) Which doesn't mean cutting your family off is the solution for everyone. But if you threaten it, you HAVE TO follow through, even if it's, say, "If you be an ass, we're not talking for __ months and then you can try again."

And counseling, yes, times a million.


Threadjack ahoy! Given that yesterday's "The Contraception Debate" post blew up to 558 comments, I'm jumping in here to say that there's a petition asking Clear Channel to terminate the Rush Limbaugh show. Two stations that syndicate the show, in Massachusetts and Hawaii, have already dropped the show in protest of his recent remarks.



Signed. THANK YOU !


@laurel Good for those two stations! Love that. Will sign.


Once five years of silent suffering has passed, LW4, you owe him marriage—and a life of suffering aloud.


Almost all your advice is solid, but sorry I can't stand behind this: "it seems balls-out absurd to me that some people wear black shoes with brown pants."
Please don't tell me you're recommending brown shoes with brown pants! That's just...too much brown.

femme cassidy

@skyslang If you are a bright-colors-wearing person, brown looks AWESOME with pink, blue, or red shoes! If not, I'm sorry but you're stuck with gray. Unless you choose to ignore my fashion advice, as all right-thinking people do and should.


@femme cassidy I did an informal poll (ok, three coworkers) and they all hate black shoes with brown pants! I didn't know this was a thing. I agree about the colors. I'm thinking navy will look amazing with brown, too. I'm more of a neutral shoe girl.


@skyslang Being from England I read that and thought 'Well how would you know what colour their pants are? Who wears pants and shoes with nothing in between?'


I really want LW#4 to be @melis so that she and Fred can have the following conversation:

Fred: No! KILL IT WITH MY INEXTINGUISHABLE PASSION!! Fire can be extinguished; my passion, never.


@wee_ramekin <3 Again.

Also, LW3- your mom. Will still be there and because she is your mom, you can reestablish contact with her. You can take family sabbaticals. So this potential choosing thing? Doesn't have to be a forever thing, if you decide to cut your mom off for a while. And if someone is telling you it is a forever thing... that is the time to realize verbally abusive people will say anything at all to get what they want. Which in this case seems to be control over you.

And your fabulous lady-friend sounds so fabulous. If it were me, I'd hold on with both hands and tell my mom to take a long walk off a short pier (while wearing swimmies of course).

Lastly, your lady-friend? If I were she, I'd be happy as all get out to not meet your mom till she act like a civilized human being. She'd dating you, not your relatives. Thankfully.

LW4: My theory on this is... until he says so to your face, you get to live in a world where you and your comix buddy are nothing more than comix buddies. Until he speaks up, any other issues are just not part of the reality.


@PistolPackinMama Strongly agree re: LW3. It's very very sad but people (including blood/family), in my opinion, give up any right to a relationship you when they abuse you.


I was all ready to wade in here and be like, man, LW1 is a better person than I am, because if my husband wanted to become a lady I'd be like "peace" (I enjoy penises OKAY, WHAT), but then I started thinking actually it might be really interesting to see what the eventual she would be like, and I just wonder how it would change him, and if/how it would change a person in general to become the other gender/sex.

Porn Peddler

@iceberg I have put off thinking about this since I read the column a few hours ago, because seriously thinking about that takes me to a dark, sticky place in my mind that I don't want to see right now. LW1 has an amazing, killer, awesome relationship.


EVERYONE... I am having a threadjack for advice moment.

A dude on the internet asked me on a second date and I said "no thank you" politely, and he said "what would you have liked to happen differently?"

And I didn't reply, because... well. There's nothing wrong with him. He didn't need to do anything differently. He was fine. I just don't want to go out with him on account of how he didn't speak of his own volition, and never more than in 1 sentence at a time. And not only did he not laugh at any of my jokes, he didn't even seem to get that I was making a joke.

Somehow saying "you're fine, just not fine for me" seems like not very helpful commentary.

So he replied to me again just now asking the same question... and I still just want to say "no really, you are fine."

I am clearly not in a position to do anything more than speculate. But. This person had a very distinct affect. The kind of affect that says "like the people you have worked with who are on the Asperger's Spectrum." So, literal, not reading of social cues. That sort of thing. But clearly not inappropriate either, really.

Again... how would I know what is really going on there? I don't. But that is how it felt interacting with him.

And... I feel like I should reply. But... is it mean to just say "no really, you're fine. Just not fine for me?"


@PistolPackinMama I think it's meaner of him to not gracefully accept the fact that you declined a second date. He sounds oddly pushy. But if you want to reply, I think "You were fine. I just don't feel any spark," because for MANY online dates it so true. Is it his first one? Because it must have happened to him before.


@PistolPackinMama Agree with Slapfight, he should have accepted your first answer. It's not mean. You don't know him well enough to start going into maybe he has Asperger's or something, and it might be insulting to go there? If he pushes for an answer after that, I think you're entitled to copy/paste your first response until he gets it.


@iceberg @slapfight Yeah. Dude's a grownup, no matter what, so should know what no means.

And also, I would never ever ask some dude on the internet "hey... by any chance are you..." It's not really relevant. You are right.


@PistolPackinMama His pushiness in repeating the question is offputting, but is there a chance that maybe he is aware of his Asperger's-y vibe (even diagnosed, potentially) and is just seeking clarification on a number of different levels? If he's bad at reading social cues, he may just not understand why it didn't work out. But also, he might know that it's very possible he did something offputting that he's not aware of, and wants to know what it is, to avoid it in the future. When you don't recognize the social missteps you are making, sometimes you need to ask straight up if you did something wrong. For years, my family has suspected my brother has Asperger's, and I sure as hell wish he would occasionally ask, "What did I do wrong?"

Obviously, it's still up to you if you want to respond to him or not. You don't need to preface with any Asperger's-related disclaimer, either. But just a thought, that his request for clarification might not be as weirdly juicebox-y as it seems.


@yeah-elle Oh, no, I didn't think he as being juiceboxy. Probably I just meant, I should err on the side of expecting he's a neurotypical grownup unless he says he's an aneurotypical grownup, and it's presumptuous of me to assume.

BUT! Update. He clarified and just said "I like constructive criticism and am looking for advice for what to do next time and you won't hurt my feelings if you don't mind helping me out."

So I replied, and said "you were fine, just not fine for me, and the only advice there is, is keep going on dates until you meet the right person. Which I realize is terrible, pointless advice and I am sorry."


@PistolPackinMama You're being super nice to him by thinking this over so carefully, which is more than what most would do, I suspect. But if he's asking for constructive criticism, I don't think it would hurt to let him know what was really bothering you, albeit in a tactful way, like "I don't think our conversation flowed very well, and our senses of humor didn't mesh." in addition to the "fine, just not fine for me." But since you already replied, I guess it doesn't really matter, haha.


@yeah-elle I thought about that. But I feel that... none of that is about him, unless he doesn't like the way his conversation goes. So saying "tailor your responses to me" isn't going to serve the lady he meets who would like him just as he is.

All this should suggest I have a real attitude of "eh, I am me, so... yeah."


@PistolPackinMama I saw it more as offering him advice on how to meet the next lady half-way, but that's also fair enough. You owe him nothing! Also, I dig that attitude.


@PistolPackinMama It seems like he has low self esteem. I think you gave him good advice, because it's the only advice you can give.


@yeah-elle Link IIIIIIIIIII'm Every Woman (well, okay, I am totally not...)

I find that "how to have a successful profile/date" advice kind of odd. Because, you know, the Be Polite And Don't Be A Rude Creep apply to pretty much all cases.

But after that... some people hate splitting the bill and others hate having stuff paid for. Some people are happy to let the other person do most of the talking and others aren't. Some people are doofy joke tellers and some aren't.

How can you know your advice after the basics "don't be awful" stuff will apply on the next date. The only real advice you can give is "be your best self, trust that a right person will get you, and have fun."


@PistolPackinMama everyonnnne i am threadjacking your threadjack because i went on a date last night, and i was really looking forward to it but trying to push my expectations down cuz with online dating you never know what the in-person chemistry is gonna be like buuut seemed like a great guy and really fun to text with and very respectful blah blah blah so yeah i was excited

but thennn he was a lot bigger in person than in the pictures and UGH a) this obviously makes me feel like an awful shallow person for even saying but it's not exactly my type (ugh just shoot me now) and i don't know how to deal with it because he genuinely seems like a nice guy and also i'm really low on guy friends in general these days but i don't want to - ahhhhh i don't know what to doo but b) i feel like his pictures were misleading and that bothers me soo much because it's not fair! it sets everybody in that situation up in a bad way i think

yuck. yuck. I'm annoyed with myself and the whole damn thing.

I don't want to be awful but I think I'm kind of awful.


I feel terrible about my taste in women (tall, skinny, small boobs, androgynous) because (a) I want to not see size and (b) I am not exactly thin myself, so I should be all for the other curvy girls, right? Except I comfort myself by thinking it's really about the small boobs.

Question: How far off do your pictures have to be to be inaccurate? Really, the only pictures I have of myself were 5-10 pounds ago. I feel like 10 pounds isn't that much, and my body type is the same (curvy but fit), but I also don't want to be that douche who doesn't look like her profile pictures.


@redheaded&crazy You're not awful. People shouldn't be misleading in their profiles. It does them and their potential dates no good. Just tell him that you think he's really cool and you enjoy his company and would like to continue hanging out, but are not really feeling the magic. It's worked for me.


@che I dunno but personally I would consider 5-10 pounds pretty normal fluctuation.


@redheaded&crazy That's how I feel. 15+ pounds would be misleading, but I can fluctuate 10 pounds over the course of my cycle.


@redheaded&crazy For a fat online-dating person's perspective, ask a... Pistol Packin' Mama!

The way out of this, for you, I think, is to choose graciousness. Don't feel awful about what you find attractive. Don't be defensive, either, because that ends up with you saying "but if he'd..." Just be okay with what you want in a partner.

Then. Think about the dude's misleading profile this way. He may be thinking "if people give me a chance, they will realize I am wonderful! And if they don't it's their fault!" But another thing that is probably going on is that this guy is presenting a fantasy to himself. "If I were thinner, people would like me and I would be worthy of love." He'd probably be getting fewer dates of higher quality if he was honest both with readers and with himself, but he's clearly not there yet.

Of course, you aren't in his head, so you can't know. But I am guessing there is some powerful shame and self negation going on there.

This is a dude off the internet, and you don't owe him anything at all. Because no woman owes a dude off the internet anything at all. And you have to be okay with who you want to date. Feeling bad about it is feeding into this weird social shame spiral from the position of the more privileged person. Make attraction neutral. It will be better for you and other people, too. It will let those women who are attracted to bigger guys feel like there is no judgment there, as well.

And then just be gracious. Be gracious to his face, and be gracious inside your head. "Oh, thanks, Bob, for asking me out again. I am not feeling any romantic sparks, but I really enjoyed your company. If you want to go get coffee as friends sometime, I'd love to do that." "This guy is dealing with a lot. Man, that has to suck."

Also, I don't think much about men's body-types as part of attraction. But I seem to end up with short slim dudes, who evidently like curvy, curvy ladies. I am not really attracted to their slimness, I don't think. Shortness, yes, I do think. And I would bang Wendell Peirce (Bunk off The Wire) in a red hot second. So who knows. These things are funny that way. But it's morally neutral. So cosmically, it doesn't matter.


@PistolPackinMama You're right! And infinitely wise. And I really appreciate your response.

I just don't want to contribute to anybody's negative body image you know? I mean I've been there myself too on one hand (which i guess everybody probably has as nobody is attractive to everybody), and on the other hand I've dealt with the above situation poorly in the past.

Attraction is morally neutral! You're genius, truly.


@redheaded&crazy Unfortunately, the guy himself has to do most of the work here. The best you can do is clear out the space in your interaction that is full of your anxiety about the situation so he can fill it with something else.

Baberaham Lincoln

Fred is a Nice Guy® and yes, I do think that after FIVE YEARS people have a responsibility to be honest about their intentions in a relationship. 10 bucks says Fred ends up assholeishly resentful and feeling like he's owed sex for being "such a good friend" over the years. It's textbook.


@Baberaham Lincoln "I really like her" is not an intention to do anything. It's just a feeling. More than telling LW to her face he was Fredding for her, he could have kept his mouth shut around their mutual-ish friends if he knew he would get no play. Unless he was just talking about his feelings in a "gosh she is pretty too bad I know she's not into me" way.

Dirty Hands

Yo shaved head letter writer girl, thanks for writing, that is what I'd have asked if I'd thought to ask it! And now I know to wear earrings with my "haircut"! YAY!!!

Infinite Jess

<3 u LW3.

This situation makes me mad at straight girls for getting to keep their homophobic moms. Where queer girls are like "Ahhh! the pain of cutting off my mom, or the pain of all this homophobia? Either way, pain!" the straight girls are like, "My super awesome mom and I are really close, except it is annoying when she is homophobic sometimes for reasons that have nothing to do with my sexuality!"


@Infinite Jess When the prejudice is not directly aimed at you, it cannot possibly compare, at all, but it's not true that straight girls can "keep" their homophobic parents. While I'm sure that some daughters can force themselves to ignore their parents' homophobia, racism, xenophobia, et cetera when the brunt of the cruelty does not fall upon them. But for others, it can still be a dealbreaker. It's hard to maintain a relationship with someone who has such misguided hatred in them, even if it's not aimed at you.


Agreed. Part of the reason I don't even consider my brother family is that I'm afraid of him because he hates me for being gay (he's big. he also lives with my parents, so i'm never comfortable there). But part of it is DEFINITELY his racism and xenophobia. To some level,* I feel like I can be patient waiting for my family to get over their homophobia, but the racism is a deal-breaker.

I also feel your pain, though, Jess. I HATE it right now because I lost my job 6 months ago and need my parents' help financially. Granted, my mother is coming around, but her attitude is still unacceptable when she lets it show. I probably would still be estranged from her if I didn't need her help. Yeah, I'm using her.

*This is after 2 years of being totally estranged from everyone but my dad. And setting very clear boundaries with the rest of my family to the tune of "if you say -phobic shit, I'm leaving."


@Infinite Jess Not all straight girls get to keep their moms, homophobic or not. Some straight girls' mothers give them shit because they think they're hiding the fact that they're queer even though those girls would fucking tell their moms if they were though maybe the shitty way those moms have no respect for their daughters' declared identity would be reason enough not to bring it up.

And some straight girls don't get to keep their moms regardless of any sexuality-related issues. So you can keep your blanket anger to yourself.


Short-hair letter writer: I hope I don't sound like a dumb Captain Obvious, but what about just some lipstick/gloss/whatever -- that is if you don't hate that kind of thing (I have a couple of friends who like makeup and all but hate lip stuff). I had all my hair cut off once (well, not really all but like Rosemary... or Carol onThe Walking Dead or something) and I really liked it but I have to admit that I did feel kind of compelled toward lipstick... or gloss, really, because sometimes I make a real mess of lipstick with an actual color.


I think Fred should become a code word for unrequited love/crush.
As in, "I'm such a Fred for this girl in my class." or "I hope I'm not being a creeper around (insert name here) cause I'm fredding (freding?) SO hard!"
Fredders Unite!...cause I do this...don't tell my Freddees(?)


@JaneDoe Definitely. It happens so often, I need a nice simple word for it!


@JaneDoe yep count me in as a big ol fred


@redheaded&crazy Does it still count as being a Fred if it's a celebrity? Or is that just being a Dork?

Chesty LaRue

@figwiggin I'm totally Fredding for Sam Witwer.
<3 you Being Human(ie?)


@figwiggin if you're at all implying that it couldn't happen between rupert and I, I've got some INEXTINGUISHABLE PASSION to show you!


@redheaded&crazy Considering that I basically envision you AS Rupert...



Also, Lindsay. There wasn't a good place to say this, so I'll put it here. I really liked your piece on your planned traditional wedding. The celebration vs. the piece of paper thing was interesting and struck home. I don't want to get married, but I would basically really like a wedding reception. Not the ceremony because being the centre of attention wiggs me out, and also being a Bride wiggs me out. But I am plotting ways to make a non-official reception happen. And also, it was excellently written and thoughtful. :)


@Craftastrophies Ooo! Where is this piece?


@wee_ramekin http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2012-02-my-big-fat-surprisingly-traditional-gay-wedding



@Craftastrophies Thanks!

femme cassidy

@Craftastrophies Oh man, thank you! That is so nice to hear! And I vote super yes on your unofficial reception. Everyone should get to have a huge ridiculous party!


I have no hair, and even with boobs, hips, dresses, and earrings, I STILL get sir'd sometimes. Hair is apparently a very strong gender-indicator, because even if everything else screams "girl," people still occasionally think I am a man. The only time this bothers me is in the women's bathroom because it's so awkward to tell the 80-year-old ladies, "No, really, I'm in the right bathroom." (As long as they're appropriately embarrassed, I don't care.)

I was at dinner with family in Memphis last fall, and I smiled at the kids at the next table and one of them yelled at me, "You're not a girl, you're a BOY!" I thought it was hilarious because obviously she knew on some level that I am a girl, to even bring it up.

But, among the queer gals, I still read as more femme than I want to.


@che It's funny how much hair is an indicator of gender! I have short hair, not even no hair, but definitely v. short for a woman. I used to do elder care, and one day while I was washing dishes at the family's house, one of the moms had their two-year-old son eating breakfast, and she asked him, "Okay kiddo, is Mia a boy or a girl?" And he stared at me for a long time before shouting, "BOY!" And everyone laughed. But the kid also ran around calling himself a dragon princess, so I don't worry too much about him growing up with rigid gender assumptions.


Black and brown are fine together, but even thinking about choosing a mean mom over a loving, supportive girlfriend is not.

Sara Jenkins@facebook

I know that I am very late to the party with a comment for LW3, but I've seriously been thinking about this since I read the column last night. As the child of an abusive mother, it took me 31 years to finally cut contact between us. I am happy every day that I did it, but that doesn't make it easy. Now no one in my family speaks to me (the extended family not out of malice, but just because we're not close), and over the holidays, I wanted to cry pretty much all of the time - try thinking about how family-centric all holiday programming is, then remember that that's not you and never will be. But when I'm not being self-pitying, I remember that I've given myself a real gift. Instead of an abusive, guilt-inducing, extremely dishonest biological family relationship, I now get to pick out a family of my very own. And do you know how many homes I have open to me all the time? Tons, and they're people I really want to spend time with. Do see a therapist, do let yourself be very angry, but please consider cutting ties. You're strong, really, really strong (more than you have any idea right now, but trust me - you have to be very strong to put up with all the shiftiness you've had to put up with), and you may find yourself worlds happier. Best of luck!


LW3 I just wanted to add one thing. It sounds like you are stressing out a lot about the burden your mom's homophobia puts on your wonderful partner. As a disliked daughter-in-law (not for homophobic, just weird jealousy reasons) I can tell you - relax. Yes, it is unpleasant to be disliked for stupid reasons that have nothing to do with oneself. BUT, if you are a loving partner (and it really sounds like it!) that is a small price to pay. Don't beat yourself up. I bet your lovergurl would hate it if she knew you were doing that. Just cope as best you can and remember it's much much harder for you than it is for her.

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