Dear Queer Abby,
I have terrible luck with women. Why?
Unlucky in Utah
Dear Queer Abby,
How do I stop dating train wrecks?
Wrecked in Wyoming
Dear Unlucky & Wrecked,
You kind of have the same question. The common denominator in each of these equations is you.
That’s good news, because it’s something (the only thing) you have control over: Your own behavior.
A few tips:
1. Work on yourself.
Before you start hunting for an opportunity to romantically fixate on another person, make sure your own life is full, balanced and joyful.
This isn’t new romantic advice. My ancient advice ancestors have been saying to fill up your own life for years, but it bears repeating: Give from your excess, not your essence.
If you have a full life, with friends and habits that make you feel happy and productive, you can attract someone who also has those things. If you’re the only thing good in someone’s life, or vice versa, that’s a giant red flag and too much of a burden and pressure for one relationship to have.
Create a lot of good things in your life so that romance is extra. It’s bonus and light and fun and it can gain depth as time goes on, not because you are wedded to the potential of another person filling some vacancy in your soul.
2. Figure out what you want.
Once you are feeling groovy, happy and whole, make a list of qualities you want in a partner today. What you’re up for, what style of relationship(s) you seek. Not just physical characteristics, but qualities.
3. Get a good haircut.
Your head is a pretty important part of the equation. It’s where your brain is.
4. Question your impulses.
If you were raised in dysfunction, do not go toward people/behaviors that your animal brain tells you to.
Take a step back, take a breath (there is no scarcity or rush, if they’re meant to be there then they will), and ask yourself if this attraction is coming from an older place inside of you, or if it is based on your standards for dating today.
Go towards something brighter, with more health.
(P.S. People are not projects. Do not date someone because you think you can help them. That’s not dating. Get a hobby.)
Meditation is useful because it helps you learn the practice of observing your thoughts without *being* them. You get to watch your thoughts float by and choose whether or not to engage. They are just thoughts, they are not necessarily truth. You gain the ability to choose whether or not to dive headfirst into believing the things your mind is telling you.
Try Headspace, a meditation app with a free introductory program that can teach you the basics of thought-observation.
6. Listen to their responses.
Anything that’s not a “yes” is a “no.”
If someone rebuffs your advances, don’t take it personally. It wasn’t a match. If they were meant to be your soul mate, they would’ve said yes.
7. Choose wisely, treat kindly.
This is the best advice I ever got while listening to conservative right-wing talk radio. A gay listener gave this as marriage advice during a call to Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Hate her talk show as you will, IT’S GREAT ADVICE.
8. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
When I worked as Assistant Goddess at the feminist bookstore in Portland, Oregon (yes, that feminist bookstore), I had a lot of downtime. One day, I picked up a book on lesbian relationships. It said to be wary of people who moved too fast with romantic proclamations of love because it meant they had bad boundaries. I furrowed my brow at the book.
I was, at that time, living with a partner who had decided on our second date that I was The One, and who moved into my house (with her hoard of small dogs) within a year of our first date. I was flattered and felt deserving of instant, television-style love, so I reshelved the book with a sour expression, pretending that the statement didn’t leave a small nagging feeling that would grow to a full-fledged haunting, and, by the end of the year, bear out as correct.
My girlfriend loved me at first sight and resented the idea of slowness or prudence as an affront to Love itself. Well, friends, you lose someone the way you get them, and my girlfriend then fell *instantly* in love with a couple other people over the course of our cohabitation and moved her dog-hoard into another girl’s house (and another after that) in what, I see decades later, was not “true love,” but an impulse much older and deeper, something that needed fixing from the past that had nothing to do with any of us lesbians in the present.
Boundaries are a nice way to take care of yourself. Impulse control is a joy because it doesn’t get you into sticky situations that are a depressing pain to get out of.
The feeling you get when you’re first with someone is a mental state called limerence, and it’s a special special place. A rarified air that only, generally, happens once in a relationship. The honeymoon phase is a flood of oxytocin, it is a bundle of honeysuckles and the best chocolate in the world, the best music you’ve ever heard, and it should be appreciated!
HOWEVER! It isn’t actual love. It’s infatuation. There is no shame in an infatuation game!
I’m not trying to kill Cupid here, I’m just saying take a breath and appreciate it. Remember it. Don’t blow your whole load at once. (Sorry to be gross.) Save the L-word — the big one — for when you actually know and admire the person. It will mean more and give you a new buzz. Do I sound like I’m a billion years old right now? WELL I AM.
Astrologer and psychic medium Jessica Lanyadoo has a rubric for dating called “You don’t know a bitch, until…” To paraphrase, she means: you don’t know someone until you’ve been sick, until they’ve been sick, until you’ve been in a fight where you were wrong, until you’ve been in a fight where they were wrong, until you’ve traveled together, until you’ve been through the holidays together (whether or not you believe in/celebrate them). Just to name a few! Get stoked to see how your partner acts in these situations, so you can say “I know you AND I love you,” not “I was high on sex and made a mistake.”
Express yourself, be truthful, but hold your cards close enough to the vest that when you do choose to lay them down, you’re doing so in a place and with a person who has proven they can take good care and hold them.