The Hook Up: 11-30-2011

I just got out of a long term relationship. I know I shouldn’t run into another relationship and I don’t want to, but I have a friend that I’ve had a crush on for the past 7 months. I started liking her when I was helping her through a bad break up. This time around she is helping me. I know we have a lot in common and what we both need in a relationship, and I think we could give it to each other. The thing is I know I’m not ready to get into another relationship just yet but I’m afraid she might meet someone else and I’ll lose my chance. We’ve been slightly flirty and I think she might like me back, but I’m not sure. Should I tell her that I like her? Or should I wait till I know I’m ready to start another relationship?

Anna says: You left out the most crucial part! Which is why you think you’re not ready to start another relationship. If it’s simply because you think you should follow some prescribed guideline for getting over a break up, (months spent co-habitating x hours spent separating your acoustic CD collection / # of pets owned + age x cumulative weight of emotional baggage in kilos) then to hell with that. If you’re wanting to jump into a new relationship as a way to get out of dealing with the last one, then you might want to put the brakes on, and go take an Underwater Basket Weaving class or something instead. Some questions to ask yourself: Are you frequently crying or losing sleep over your last girlfriend? Was she abusive? Do you still live together? If you answered yes to any of these, then hold off on asking New Girl out for a frap. But, not knowing the back story and being generally on Team Ask People Out, here’s my two cents.

Tell her you like her. Confessing your feelings to this gal doesn’t mean you have to get into a serious, all-encompassing lovefest of foreverness! You can take things as slow as you need to, assuming of course, the feelings are mutual and reciprocated on her end. If they aren’t, then mystery solved, and you can go back to being pals. But don’t tell her you like her just because you’re afraid she might get snatched up by the next dyke coming down the pike. Do it because, well, you like her, you want to make out with her, and you think it’d be super fun to ride tandem bicycles and sing Beyonce songs together.

I know that lesbians sometimes confuse “dating” with mating. I’m totally guilty of being That Girl. I’m like, “We shared some meaningful eye contact. I should write her a poem.” But that doesn’t have to be the case. Dating is basically just hanging out with implied sexytimes at the end (or the beginning if you’re a real go-getter). You’re already halfway there, in other words. If you’re up for taking another tiny hop forward, then do it. Nothing catastrophic will happen, I promise.

I’ve been with my girlfriend for just over 14 months now, and I’m crazy about her. We’re serious enough that she asked me to spend the holidays with her and her family. The problem is her family is very Catholic, especially her grandmother, and she’s asked me to basically say that I’m her roommate and not her girlfriend when I’m around them. This makes me so sad and angry! Why should I have to pretend to be something I’m not to appease a religion I don’t even believe in? Why did she invite me in the first place if she’s ashamed of me? I don’t know if I can play pretend. It makes me want to cancel the whole trip. What should I do?

Anna says: I love that you’re still quantifying your relationship in months. It reminds me of being little and proudly holding up five and a half fingers when someone inquired about my age. Anyway. Yes. The holidays are a particularly fraught time for everyone, but especially for queers. (This is why Mariah Carey and eggnog were invented.) Some queers have been outright rejected by their families. Some are quasi-welcomed back, but on the condition that they hide their true selves, and basically must never bring up their love life or any kind of discussion that could be deemed “promoting the homosexual agenda,” from Prop 8 to Katy Perry lyrics. “I kissed a girl. I liked it and then went promptly to hell!” Others, like your girlfriend, aren’t out to their families, and have to deal with a whole ‘nother set of issues and discomfort. To that end though, your girlfriend is not ashamed of you, so quit that line of thinking ASAP. If she didn’t love you, she wouldn’t have invited you to spend the holidays with her. She’d rather be in your company, even under strained conditions, than be without you. Don’t forget that.

For the record, I’m of the mind that it is in the best interest of all queers to come out to everyone (barring those whose lives would be endangered or physically harmed). The more people stay closeted, the more invisible we are, yada yada Lady Gaga. But when it comes to other people’s coming out, i.e. your girlfriend, it’s up to them to figure out when and how to do so. It’s not your fight to fight, regardless of the politics involved, or your sense of personal injustice. This isn’t to say I’m not on your side; I am! But coming out to one’s family is an intensely personal decision, and one that I’m afraid you’re not qualified to make for anyone else except yourself. You are entitled to try to make her see things from your perspective, but stop short of major guilt trips or tantrums about “it’s not fair!” Nothing is fair. What matters is that you pick your battles wisely. As a compromise, you can try to talk her into coming out to one or two family members on this trip, ones that she feels would be sympathetic or whom she generally can confide in. But coming out to Grandmother Teresa probably aint gonna happen this time around.

If the thought of being your girlfriend’s “roommate” even for a week would make you totally miserable, then don’t go on the trip with her. But if you can let go of some of your preconceptions, you just might find that spending time with your girlfriend and her family is worth your while, and not just for the baby photos of her naked in a cowboy hat and riding a broomstick. Also, most people’s families aren’t dumb. They’ll know you’re together. They might even give you conspiratorial winks or high fives. You never know. Sometimes the things that make us most uncomfortable end up being the most rewarding, like that naked broomstick moment I mentioned earlier. Back when I was a wee young dyke of 22, I spent a night with my girlfriend’s Mormon family. I, too, was upset about having to “play pretend” as you say, but in terms of Great Injustices I’ve suffered at the hands of homophobia, in the end, it didn’t even register as a blip.

Focus on what you yourself can do or change, and on being a supportive girlfriend, and you’ll be aces. Good luck!

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at askthehookup@gmail.com.

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