Q: I spent the last two years in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe and just committed to another year. Before my assignment, I was dating a decent guy, but I told him it was temporary. When I was home on leave this summer, it was evident he hadn't let the relationship go. I reiterated that I just wanted friendship, but when I was back in Europe he emailed, asking if I still love him. He’s always been really supportive, and even visited me in my first year, but I again told him I didn’t have romantic feelings for him. He asked for time to get over us. I promised not to contact him until he contacted me. This month, after three months of silence, he messaged me saying he wanted to talk, but now he won’t respond to my emails to set up a Skype date. I miss him terribly and wonder if I made a mistake ending it with him. Then again, I’m living in a culture where women my age are all married with two kids, and I’m getting a lot of pressure to get married.
A: Assuming you aren’t willing or able to “date local,” this guy is effectively the last man on earth for you, at least for a year. Yeah, sure, you could go on a dating site and pique some new guy’s interest, but imagine the directions for the first date: “Hop a 16-hour transatlantic flight, take three buses, transfer to the local mule cart, and tell Szylblczlka to turn left at the second group of goats in the road.”
Until recently, even with thousands of miles between you, this guy’s been conveniently located: stuck on you. It sounds like you admire his good qualities — sort of in the way a great auntie appreciates her little grand-nephew’s accomplishments in the macaroni arts. But, romance? Nuh-uh. Not feelin’ it. Friendship only. And that’s final. Well, sort of final. Because, while absence, punctuated by the occasional Skype chat, couldn’t make the heart grow fonder, there’s nothing that gins up feeling in a girl like the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of a guy after years of his tongue-dragging, tail-wagging, puppydog-like reliability.
Adding to this allure, you’re the single lady surrounded by all these happy villager couples. This leads to you telling yourself that maybe you’re only now recognizing the guy’s wonderfulness, but what you’re really saying is “I don’t particularly have feelings for him, but he’s always had feelings for me, and I’m kinda lonely over here in Upper Eastern Wherever, where the milkmaid next door just got married at 14.”
Paraphrasing Kant on how people shouldn’t be treated as means to an end, “Don’t be a user! That’s, like, so bogue.” Instead, engage in a truly humanitarian gesture — leave the guy alone so he can get you out of his system and go find somebody else. Ideally, she’ll also “miss him terribly” when they’re apart — but not simply because he’s the one man she has contact with who lacks both a wife and the belief that pink #300 sandpaper doubles for White Cloud and a glass of warm water is the week’s bath.
Q: I’m a straight man who’s become friends with two bona-fide, card-carrying lesbians. One I met hiking and the other is a coworker. Dominique and Angelique (not their real names) are both very attractive. I consider each a good friend, have lunched with them, hugged them, and met their respective unattractive partners (each of whom looks like a man). I know they are not interested in men, yet I continue to have prurient thoughts about them, and find this continuing attraction to gay women confusing.
— Wrong Hots
A: Wait. You’re a heterosexual man who has the hots for hot women who get it on with other women? Weird. And yet, there must be other men out there who feel as you do, considering the vast selection of videos titled “Hot Lesbian Action,” and the paucity of titles like “Two Lesbian Soccer Moms Nuzzle On The Couch While Sharing A Bag Of Kale Chips.” Guess what: You aren’t attracted to gay women; you’re attracted to extremely attractive women, some of whom happen to be gay. (Not surprisingly, when coming up with aliases for your friends, you reach for names that are more stripper than lady field hockey coach.) If you’re content to remain a les-bro — a straight guy who’s friends with lesbians — your lesbian friends can provide you with priceless benefits: unlimited insight into the bizarre thinking and behavior of women. Just be sure you always keep a firm grip on the bottom line: If they were into men, they’d be dating a man instead of a woman who kind of looks like one.
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