Dear Anna, I’ve been single for a year, and I’ve been putting myself out there, meeting people online and through friends and all of that, but nothing ever lasts longer than a few dates. My friends think I’m either not over my ex, or that I’m afraid of intimacy. I think they’re being weird and judgmental. It’s not like I’m not trying, you know? Who’s right? — Torn
Anna says: Oh geez. The only electronic friend fights I feel confident resolving are those that involve who is better at watching Golden Girls re-runs, and the answer is always, “me.” Usually I would insert a dirty joke here, but AfterEllen.com is a family establishment after all, so I’ll just tell you the punch line. (You can message me if you want the whole joke).
Depends. If several of your friends have staged an intervention regarding your love life, it would certainly behoove you to at least listen to their concerns. If those concerns appear to be valid, and not, say, that they are merely tired of you crying over your ex every time that one Tegan and Sara song comes on, then they could be onto something. Our friends often have our best intentions in mind. That’s why they are our friends, and not cleverly disguised drone missiles. On the other hand, no one knows you better than you know yourself. So, there’s your fourth grade gym teacher answer. Everybody wins!
You don’t seem to view your one-date stands as problematic, which to me is the most important point of your admittedly quite short letter. Unless you do view them as problematic, and you’re merely disguising your intentions as a friendly she said-she said argument to mask your own crippling loneliness, in which case, nobody wins!
Seriously though, relationships of value and long-lastiness take time for some people. Lifetimes even. That may seem contradictory to the stereotype of lesbians leap-frogging from one monogamous relationship to the next, but it’s true. There are certain things in life we simply can’t rush — meditation, Hot Pockets, downloading Season 2 of Mad Men from BitTorrent, etc.
That said, if going on endless first dates is becoming not fun for you, then back off. Pursue other hobbies, like tai chi, horticulture, or casual sex. Some people view dating as a hobby in and of itself, but I am of the mind that making endless small talk with strangers over gelato day in and day out seems like Dante’s tenth circle of hell, had Dante been a lesbian. So, you know, to each her own.
As Rose said on The Golden Girls, “You know what they say: You can lead a herring to water, but you have to walk really fast or he’ll die.”
Dear Anna, I’m 29, and recently moved back to my hometown and in with my parents while I’m looking for a job and saving money for my own place. I’m not dating anyone seriously — just a few dates here and there — but it’s become rather awkward navigating my love life and my parents. They worry about me, even though I’m not a kid anymore. Also, will girls view me as a loser if I tell them I am shacking up with my relatives? Any tips are appreciated. — Home But Not Alone
Anna says: A loser? Hardly. Even though the recession supposedly ended two years ago, the economy is still in the toilet and unemployment is through the roof. If any woman gives you grief for struggling right now, then her heart is made of titanium and you should send her packing to one of those remote islands that she inevitably owns with all of her portable jacuzzis and jet-pack muff warmers! I got my ideas about rich people from watching Inspector Gadget, apparently.
That said, even though the living-with-parents stigma has mostly subsided, no one wants to hear about how you’re shacking up with your parents “indefinitely.” So, be sure to follow up that sentence with some kind of big life goal. And no, tending your Etsy shop doesn’t count.
Parents will always be parents, no matter how old we get. Hell, kids will be kids, too. I still fidget uncomfortably whenever my parents and I are watching a movie that has a sex scene in it. Especially if it involves two women. I start scrutinizing the label on my root beer like it’s the most engrossing piece of literature I’ve read since Sontag’s “Against Interpretation.” Since I haven’t lived with my folks for quite some time, I asked a friend how she handles potential awkwardness. Her advice is this:
If your parent is a worrying parent, then establish a system that lets them know when you’re staying out overnight in a way that gives away the least info possible. Good: a text message saying, “Hey dad, I’ll be out again tonight. See you tomorrow afternoon.” Bad: “Dad, remember that girl I’m seeing? I’m sleeping with her. We’re going to have sex tonight so I think I’ll just stay over there. K?”
Another potential pitfall is that you have to introduce your parents to people you date far earlier than you would perhaps like to. But you know, making two minutes of small talk with family members is hardly the worst thing in the dating realm. It is only after your parents have brought out the shoebox full of baby pictures of you pretending to ride a ferret that you are allowed to protest.
p.s. Never underestimate the potential hotness of making out in cars. Just like high school, only with less shame!
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 professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.