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Guessing Games

By Mink Stole | Posted 6/27/2001

Since she moved into the neighborhood a couple of years ago, I have been as good a friend to this woman as I know how. Nearly every week she would want my advice on the men in her life or her job. I turned her on to my hairstylist and my favorite shops. I even went with her to help her pick out a new car! Then the other day she called and, out of nowhere, told me that she thought I was gay. She says I'm just not admitting it to myself, that she felt herself obligated, as my "friend," to tell me for my own good, and that it's nothing to be ashamed of. I wouldn't be ashamed if I were gay, Mink, but I'm not. Why would she say such a thing? I've been happily married for five years and have never even fantasized about another woman. What can I say that won't sound like I'm in denial?

Stressed-Out Straight

Dear Stressed:

While I wouldn't be too proud of never fantasizing about other women--all that really proves is a sad lack of imagination--your sexual orientation is not the issue here. She might just as easily have called you a Communist, or a Republican, or a bed-wetter--her intention was to drop a bomb, and that's an aggressive and hostile act. For the last couple of years, she's been confiding in you every little weakness and insecurity, allowing herself to become way too dependent on you. In other words, she's been treating herself like a child and you like her parent. That's given you, whether you realize it or not, an enormous amount of power over her. Even though she set it up herself, and even if you've done nothing to suggest you expect any gratitude, she's bound to resent you for it. So now she's acting out her adolescent need to lash out at your authority.

I wouldn't make a big deal of her charge. If she brings it up again, try laughing and saying something like, "Oh, I wish I were that interesting," and drop it. You don't have to worry about dropping her, she's looking for a way out, but all the same it's pointless to let her pull you into a fight. My bet is that with this gal it's a pattern. As soon as she makes her break from you, she'll attach herself to some other woman and start the process all over again. Which could be indicative of her own sexual ambivalence. No one knows better than I how flattering it is to have someone look up to you, and you might miss that for a while, but in the future you would probably do better to stick with friendships that are less codependent.

The other night, I went out with a guy I met through friends and had a wonderful time. He took me to a really nice restaurant, and we talked for hours. We talked about seeing each other again but made no definite plans, which at the time didn't worry me because I really felt we were connecting. Then, when he drove me home, instead of a good-night kiss, he shook my hand! What does that mean? Is he not attracted to me?

Shaken, Not Stirred

Dear Shaken:

There may be nothing more nightmarish than a first date. We're under pressure to be attentive, amusing, charming, appealing, and desirable, all without seeming too eager, too available, or, heaven forbid, desperate. Add to all that confusion over who asks whom, who should pay, even whose car to take, and it's a wonder anyone survives, let alone moves on to a second date. There are zillions of couples out there, however, and as we don't do many arranged marriages here, it must work somehow.

Who does what to bring about and negotiate a date depends on each unique set of circumstances, but as an early step in the courtship ritual of humans the one thing common to first dates is the search for a spark of sexual attraction. No matter how otherwise pleasant the evening may be, as Duke Ellington would say, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." And a handshake at the door doesn't usually send a guy whistling off into the night, happily anticipating your next evening together.

All may not be lost here, however. Maybe, like lots of guys, he's just shy. If you really like him, call him and tell him what a good time you had. If his response is cool or lukewarm, thank him nicely and let it go. If he sounds pleased, on the other hand, suggest another specific date, like dinner Thursday. Then, when you get to your door, plant one on him. What he does with that will tell you everything.

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Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
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Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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