Skip to content

Relationship Advice I Never Got: Conflict

The last round of relationship advice was a hit, so I have more from my twitter friends, blog friends and Facebook pals.

Conflict seems to be everybody’s sticky point. EVERY couple fights. Or, has disagreements, however you want to say it. It’s healthy. You have to resolve them, though, or you’ll have the same damned fight throughout the relationship.

The most important thing, according to my pals, seems to be communication.

Always communicate, never quit trying is what my pal Kelly G says. You can’t resolve something if you just give up. It’s very easy to say “the hell with this!” and end a relationship. My friend LL (@ButchIma to those of you who follow her on twitter) says that she thinks you have to earn the right to leave a relationship. By that, she means you’ve tried as hard as you can to work through things and you can say honestly “Yes. I did everything I could and this just won’t work out.” [Of course, there are some exceptions: eg substance abuse and domestic violence. In those cases, GET OUT NOW. You can’t fix it.]

Olivia adds: if at all possible, talk about conflicts when they’re small. This is my weakness. I admit it. I HATE to talk about my damned feelings. I mean. I know I have to. I just don’t like it. However, I’ve been practicing with my friends and my family, so if I ever get a girlfriend (which, doubtful. See my “I’m a pain in the ass” post a few back) I will have some experience with just getting it done.

Olivia is a wise woman. It is actually far, far easier to deal with a problem when you’re only mildly annoyed by it. If you wait until you’re ready for a Full Femme Fit … well. You’ll have a Full Femme Fit. And have to deal with the aftermath of the FFF. It’s far easier to remain calm and rational, when you’re only mildly ticked off.

Here’s what not to do: don’t ignore those little things and let them build up. Because build up they will. It doesn’t have to be a long discussion. It can be simple and direct. “Will you please rinse out your cereal bowl so that the milk isn’t gross to wash out at the end of the day?” Or “It hurts my feelings when you {fill in the blank}.”

I think my beautiful friend Teri has the best advice of all Fight Fairly. The problem is that no one actually teaches us how to fight fairly, do they? Fighting is frequently not at all fair. [and don’t get all semantical here on me either. Fighting/ disagreement/ discussing/whatever you call it.] I read an excellent book once, Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard Markman, Scott M. Stanley, and Susan L. Blumberg. It’s written for heterosexual couples but it can work for all of us.

This is also helpful, even though it was written by Catholic bishops. [I mean, what do PRIESTS know about marriage? Exactly nothing, that’s what. But apparently, they know about fighting – or else consulted with a psychologist or two because this is actually good.]

Conflict is unavoidable, whether it’s with a partner or a parent. Part of being a healthy adult is learning to manage it. So damn. I’m not a healthy adult yet. I’ll get there.

What are your relationship woes? Where do you struggle? Do you have advice for my readers?


The Best Relationship Advice I Never Got: Pre-relationship

I’ve been dating a long time, darlings. A. Long. Time. I had my first date when I was 15, so holy fuck. I’ve been dating for 30 years. I’ve had some good ones, some bad ones, some fully unforgettable ones and some completely regrettable ones. I’ve learned a lot along that.

I requested Best Relationship Advice I Never Got from my friends on Twitter and Facebook and I got some amazing responses. Turns out there is a lot of good advice out there, so I’m going to break this up into several posts. Be on the look out! All of these advice-givers prefer to remain anonymous, so I’m doing theirs first and mixing it in with my own.

The Pre-Relationship Advice

Some things, you need to know before you ever get so far as a relationship. As you’re getting to know someone, think about these things.

If you give someone your number or, if have a date, and the person doesn’t call you? She doesn’t want to. She did not lose your number, she did not get into a car accident, her mother did not die. She is not too busy. We make time for what we want to do. She does not want to call you. Move on. All this means is that she is not the right person for you and that leaves you open for finding the person who is the right one for you. Which leads me to the next thing ….

Believe her when she tells you who she is. If she says she is not ready for a relationship, she is not. If she says she is crazy, she is. If she says she is uber-jealous, she is, and it is NOT cute. Whatever it is, BELIEVE HER. For the love of pete, believe it. [However, if she says something like “I’m allergic to drama” that usually means, I am a dramatic motherfucker. Be careful.]

Don’t try to change her mind. You can’t MAKE anyone love you. You also can’t make anyone want to be in a relationship with you, even if they do love you. Even if you are the perfect woman for her, if she isn’t ready, she isn’t ready. Don’t send her text messages or emails or Facebook messages or tweets asking her to reconsider. Let it go. There is someone else out there who will be good for you and who is ready.

Drama at the very beginning is a bad sign. Into everyone’s life a little drama comes every now and again. It’s to be expected. Family problems, job crises, illness, crazy exes, etc. are all part of life. Things happen. If you’re just beginning to get to know someone and you see that they are constantly dealing with drama of some kind – think carefully about whether you can deal with it. The real red flag for me is when someone starts to create drama around “us.” That is a deal-breaker, my friend.

I mean, okay, you’re likely to hurt someone’s feelings or make them mad. If it happens a few times, as you’re getting to know one another, that’s to be expected. You’re learning how each other reacts to things and what is okay to say/not say, and like that. You’re still ironing out expectations and that sort of thing. Hurt feelings and/or mad are likely.

For example: Potential Girlfriend calls me “woman” sometimes. As in “Jesus Christ, woman!” when I’ve exasperated her. I like it. I think it’s sexy and, you know, dominant and hot. My sister? Would be mad as fuck if her husband called her “woman.” You can’t know that until it come up, right?

Reconsider this relationship, though, if you have a lot of communication problems. It may not be that either of you is a bad person or a bad potential girlfriend but that your communication styles might not mesh. That is okay.

I have many more bits of relationship advice to pass along, pumpkins, so stay tuned!

Coming Out Story: At least one part of it

Uppoppedafox was talking about coming out stories on twitter today. The general consensus was that coming out stories are trite. Mine is sorta scandalous (though I’m leaving out that part.) But telling my mother was funny.

After 6 months of dating my First Girlfriend, I decide to move in with her (and her 4 roommates, but that’s a whole other story.) First Girlfriend had been coming to visit me at my mom’s (where I was living between semesters at school) so my mom know her and, presumably, liked her. One of First Girlfriend’s roommates also happened to be my favorite aunt – and my mom’s favorite sister- so she knew that everyone who lived there was gay.

I was in the bathroom, packing my ridiculous number of bathroom items into a box, and my mom came in. She put the lid down on the toilet, sat on it and asked, “Are you going to tell me why you’re moving?”

For whatever reason, I wasn’t feeling direct. I told her “you know, Mom. I can’t live with you forever. They live near the beach, it will be fun to live with friends, I just think it’s time. It’s closer to school than from here. There’s lots of reasons.”

To which my mother replied, “I know you’re lovers. You might as well tell me.”

To which I replied, “Uh…. okay.”

I wasn’t always so articulate as I am now.

The Baby Butch in the Bakery

I came across a flash drive today – with a few of my posts. Here’s one.

Sometimes, I am a Complete Pushover.

Okay, stop laughing! It’s true. I’ll give you that it doesn’t happen often but sometimes it does. Would you like an example?

The first time I went to Greektown in Detroit, I went to a great Greek restaurant (I know, duh.) Pegasus is still my favorite Greek restaurant and I have been known to drive THREE HOURS for their skordalia. Yum. Just yum.

That first time, we all shared saganaki and skordalia (I almost never share my skordalia anymore!) and I had chicken souvlaki with a Greek salad. Gastronomical heaven, pumpkins. While I was contemplating which of the myriad delicious desserts I should have, one of my friends suggested that instead we go to the bakery across the street. Wtf? Why not?

Off we went.

Astoria Bakery is small and, that night, not too crowded. I was looking at all the pastries when I hear a deep voice say next to me, “What do you think you’re going to get?”

I turned to the cutest baby butch EVER. My response: *blink blink*

When I finally found my voice, I told her that I’d never been to Astoria before so I was having trouble choosing. “What’s *your* favorite?” I asked her.

“You’ve never been here before?” She took my hand and walked with me to the far end of the display case. “You have to try this. And this. And this. And this.”

Remember the Complete Pushover part? I bought every freaking dessert that she thought I should try. All I can remember is that there was a napoleon, a baklava (O.M.G.), a meringue, and lots of other things.

$45 later, I walked out of the bakery with a lot of freaking pasty and the phone number of a baby.

My friends thought that it was the funniest freaking thing ever. Oh, not that met a cute butch – that happens with some frequency. Nope. What they thought was so funny is that I spent forty-five dollars just to keep her talking. :shrugs: I have a thing for cute butches with deep voices. What can I say?

On turning 45: a letter to young women

I’m 45 today.

For years, I’ve had this post trying to work itself out in my head. Today I decided “I am going to write that damn post.”

See, it all started in the grocery store.

On the same night, in the same grocery store I heard two conversations that, when taken together, made me laugh.

The first was a young woman wondering what some man saw in a woman who was older and the second was an older woman wondering the same about what some (presumably other) man saw in some (presumably other) younger woman.

I think we can all figure out the allure of youth. But about the older women?

All you twenty-somethings? You know all those things you wish you were?

We are.

You know how you wish you knew what your career was going to be? How you wish you were comfortable in your own body? How you wish someone would notice that you’re not just beautiful? You know how you wish your financial situation would settle out? You know how you wish that you knew how to manage various situations at work and at home? You know how you wish you knew how to make a dinner that makes people melt into a puddle? And that you had all the equipment you needed to do so? You know how you wish you were the one in charge at work? That you could afford those fabulous, fabulous shoes? You know how you wish that you would stop reacting to every little thing that anyone says to you? You know how you wish that you had more confidence in your opinions and in your abilities? You know how you wish you knew, really knew, who you are?

We are. We do. We can.

There is a lot to be said for youth. I love being 45 but there are days when I’d give Dustmop and Barky-Dog (and, possibly, my netbook AND my Nook) for my 23-year-old body back. Even if I diet and exercise for hours a day, I’m never going to have that. I can look pretty fucking good, (if I do all that, which I don’t) but I’m never going to look 23. I wouldn’t even consider trying to compete for attention with a 23-year-old. If the person wants young, there is nothing I can do about it

On the other hand, as an exceptionally smart butch woman told me, there are advantages to dating older women.

We’re confident. I do not mean cocky masquerading as confidence. Confidence comes from feeling good about who you are and before you can do THAT, you have to know who you are. Confidence means that we aren’t going to freak the fuck out if you want to watch football with your friends. It means that every woman who comes along isn’t a potential rival. It means that we relax.

Being confident and comfortable in one’s own skin also translates into much better sex. It’s pretty hard to get to orgasm if you’re worried that you look weird or that you smell funny or whatever. By the time you’re in your 40s you know that everyone looks weird when they’re having sex and sometimes things don’t smell like roses. We don’t care. We also know our own bodies and how to give ourselves pleasure, therefore we can tell you what works for us. We are more willing to try things because we care far less about what our partner might be thinking.

We’re fun to date (or be married to) because we’ll try things. By “try things” I mean, like, we’ll go rollerblading even if we’ve never been or we’ll go to a concert of someone we’ve never heard of or we’ll play basketball with someone’s children because we are long past the phase of “how will I look when I do that?” and “what will they think of me?” I’ll play basketball with rugrats even though I suck because it’s fun. (I do, however, draw the line at bowling. I just hate it.) [Okay, rollerblading probably isn’t the best example. I have the balance of a banana and I am scared witless of breaking a hip {I KNOW. Shut UP.} so no rollerblading for me. But you get the idea.]

To quote the previously-mentioned friend (because I *never* say this word), older women “have their shit together.”

Generally speaking, you don’t see older women flashing their breasts on Girls Gone Wild. Even those of us who have had implants, and whose breasts look freaking fabulous, have better sense than that. (No, I have not had implants.) Generally speaking, we don’t have the drama that seems to be permanently attached to younger women’s lives. We pay our bills, we clean our house, we attend to the business of our lives, so we have far less daily-life drama.

We do not care what our mothers think.

I’m not going to lie to you, young women. There are times when all of the above is true. There are times when none of it is. However, we know that we’re going to get back to our equilibrium. Whatever upset is going on isn’t permanent and we’re going to be okay. I found out on Wednesday that I was out of a job. It was upsetting and I spent the day being pathetic, but I *know* it will turn out okay because I have options. And skills. And experience. So, I’ll get a new job. I’ll be back to center soon.

Enjoy being young. It’s a wonderful time of your life. Wear short skirts or blue hair, my young femmes. My young butches, wear your skater clothes or your board shorts. Either of you: those pajamas in public? Must be a thing of the past, the second you graduate from college. Do impulsive, impetuous things so you have good stories to tell when you’re older. Have fun. Work hard, but don’t always work. Don’t get to be 40 and look back on your life and wish you’d had more fun.

I was a Wild Child. I did things I do not recommend that you do. I make jokes that if I could have MAJORED in weed, women & whisky, I’d have graduated summa cum laude. I drank, I did some drugs, I went out at least 3 nights a week. I tended bar and flirted with everyone. I had ill-advised sex. I made scenes. I *caused* scenes. I called off work because I was still too high to think about slinging Big Gulps all day. I bet boys I could drink more shots than they could. [For the curious: most of the time, yes.] I made impromptu trips to hither and yon in an AMC Concord with a soup-can as a muffler. [I told you – I come from a long line of moonshine-runnin’ rednecks. That was a family member’s idea of a car repair. The funny thing? I didn’t even notice for MONTHS.]

So my young friends, do stuff. Have things to look back and laugh about. [For the records, those are often not the things you THINK you’ll be laughing at! I was horrified by the soup-can muffler at the time, once I figured it out, but now? OMG. Really?] Make mistakes now. They are easier to shake off.

But …..

Don’t fear getting older – anticipate it! You have a lot to look forward to. Being a grown up is fabulous, even on days when you don’t think you even remember how to spell the word fabulous.

I promise.

Valentine’s Day

Blog post #2 today! I’m on a roll! Be sure to click back one page and read “Beautiful.”

Across the twitterverse and blogosphere, I have been reading about how people “don’t do Valentine’s Day”. Well, why not?

Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I would be mad as hell at someone who bought me $100 roses (because a) they cost $40 last week and b) I don’t like roses and you oughta KNOW that, motherfucker.) I also don’t want to go out to dinner on the weekends around Valentine’s Day or on Valentine’s Day proper. Those “special menus” mean we are going to overpay for mediocre food and wait on line far too long for the privilege. And the server will be too busy to bring me another diet Coke, which is just going to annoy me. I also think that most Valentine’s Day cards are hokey (but if someone made me one? That would be SO cool because it’s unexpected) and if you’re gonna buy me candy, it better be GOOD candy, not conversation hearts or stupid stuff that comes in a heart-shaped box. I mean, really. Who I am is not going to go out the window because it’s Valentine’s Day.

The most common reasons not to celebrate Valentine’s Day are: it’s too commercial and “I try to show my love every day.”

Okay, number one: Christmas is too commercial, too. (I mean, hello? Christmas stuff up in stores BEFORE HALLOWEEN??) I don’t see too many people passing up on Christmas. Even those who don’t celebrate what Christmas is actually about but whose sole purpose of celebrating Christmas is the gifts. I mean. How much more commercial can you get? Oh, wait. They rarely admit it’s for the presents. It’s all about “family.” Right.

Now, on to those who say “I try to show my love every day.”

The operative word there is “try.” Because let’s face it. Even with the best intentions, that doesn’t happen. I was married not so long ago, I remember. You want to show love every day but guess what happens? Life happens. The laundry needs to get done, the children need picking up from school and ferried to karate, the car needs fixing, you have to work late, someone gets sick and life just happens.

Of course your beloved knows you love her. Is it so wrong, though, to set aside a day to really focus on it? To say “okay, this is the day that we celebrate US?” Because celebrations are meant to be special occasions, not every day events. We celebrate lots of things in the country, why not celebrate our relationships and our love?

I’m not saying you have to be all conventional and wear slutty lingerie, go out to dinner, send roses and candy. You can, if that’s the thing that works for you, but maybe what works best for you is to stay home and have fried chicken and French fries. Maybe it’s about having a specific time set to acknowledge that, yes, this person is very special to you.

[An aside, I have 2 favorite dinners: medium rare steak with mashed potatoes and pizza, buffalo wings and Velveeta macaroni and cheese. Both with a side of whisky!]

The problem, from what I’m told, is that someone always gets in “trouble” because they don’t meet the other person’s expectations for a “perfect” Valentine’s day. No Valentine’s Day is going to be perfect, so let’s throw that out the window.

I have another thought: how about we, collectively, stop expecting our partners to read our freaking minds and just say what we want?

Like, on the level of a Big Deal Thing, I would love to go on vacation every year at this time. It’s not only Valentine’s Day but my birthday is 3 days later, so I would love to go somewhere warm and lounge on a beach. Or go somewhere cold and snowy and not so far away from home and just hang out in a cabin in the woods somewhere for a week, with nothing to do but chill. And you know. That One Thing.

I would LOVE for someone cook me dinner (because I can’t grill a good medium rare steak to save my ASS) and watch a chick movie with me, which she would normally bellyache about. I’ll make dessert! (Okay, that *is* pretty typical Valentine’s Day stuff, I KNOW, but it works for me. Yours might be something TOTALLY different. If that’s the case, do that.)

The secret is to decide together what you’re going to do, not expect huge surprises that are going to amaze and delight. They almost never do because your partner is not a mind reader

And as for presents, I say the same thing I always say: pay attention to your partner. If you “show your love every day” then presumably you listen to her and you know what she wants. I have been blogging for nearly 10 years. Some of those years I was married. In other years, I had an SO. None of them ever read my blogs and if they had, their gift-giving would have been so much easier. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been saying, “If someone wants me to know they love me, then get my truck detailed?” or “don’t bring me roses! Buy me happy flowers!” I mean. I’m not hard to figure out. I will TELL you what to do, if you listen. I’m guessing that your sweetheart is the same way.

Man. I got all tangential, didn’t I?

If you don’t like Valentine’s Day and nothing I am going to say is going to sway you, then fine. I think you’re missing out.

Where the Butch Love Truly Began

My Twitter friend, Bren wrote this post about respecting our LGBT elders. If you haven’t read it yet, go read. I’ll wait.

I left her a comment and decided I’d write the longer version in my own post. Here it is:

I hope that all of you a have at least a passing knowledge of queer history and you know that back pre-Stonewall (and, hell, even after Stonewall for a while), police would raid gay bars and hassle the queers. Mostly the drag queens and the butches. They had to be wearing at least three pieces of clothing of the “appropriate” gender. If they weren’t they’d get arrested. They got arrested, anyway, and worse. If you don’t know anything about this, then please read Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and The Persistent Desire by Joan Nestle. You need to. Really.

The Stonewall Riots that began the queer rights movement? Began because of drag queens and butches. Straight up, old-school, suit-and-tie-wearing butches. None of this metrosexual crap. Butch. And let’s not forget the drag queens. [Which is why it ticks me off beyond belief when people say they don’t want the butches and the drag queens at gay pride stuff because we wouldn’t even HAVE gay pride stuff without the butches and the drag queens.]

I came out in 1987. In Michigan. In 1988, my girlfriend and I moved to Grand Rapids, MI. I loved to dance and she loved to drink, so went to a bar called Club 67 on the weekends fairly frequently.

People think those bar raids were long gone by then, but it’s not true. Oh, not for the “3 pieces of women’s clothing” thing, but drugs. Drugs that were, at least once that I know of FOR SURE, planted by cops as an excuse to arrest a butch. Not kidding. Anyway, one time, I was at a bar being raided and freaking because a) it was my first time in a bar that got raided (but it wouldn’t be my last) and b) I went to a Catholic college – getting arrested might have caused me problems.

What happened when these raids happened was that the police came in – in full fucking riot gear – and sealed off all entrances and exits. They sometimes made you line up – like you were in grade school – and sometimes they didn’t. If they lined you up, they were going to check IDs, looking for underage people, no doubt. If they lined you up, you knew there was going to be ugliness. Some butch was going to get arrested. Some butch with a loud mouth, who was sick of the harassment, was probably going to get assaulted. And the femmes? Well, it never happened to me, but I’ve heard about the femmes who got arrested. I’m grateful that I wasn’t one of them. I can’t even type the words about what happened to one woman I knew. It’s not my story to tell and I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m sure you can figure it out.

So, we were getting raided. I was freaking out. My girlfriend had gone out to the car for something, so she wasn’t even in the damned bar and she had better sense than to TRY to get in. I mean, even to get me, she shouldn’t have tried to get in. It was dangerous. Not only was she a butch, she was Mexican. That was a whole other layer of trouble for her.

I have no idea what I did to catch their attention, but these three older, very old school butches, surrounded me, and pushed me to the back of a crowd of butches. They told me to sit down on a chair that was back in the corner, behind the pool tables, and they gathered the rest of their friends to stand in front of me so that if the police didn’t make us all line up, then maybe they wouldn’t see me. All of those butches in that bar, at least 50 of them, keeping me safe from the police. There were too many people in Club 67 that night and the police didn’t make us line up and they never saw me. I cried the entire time, I’m not ashamed to tell you. I was 21 and scared witless.

I’ll never forget those butches. After that, whenever I’d go to that bar, I’d see one of them and they’d wink at me and say something sweet and I’d always send over a pitcher of beer. I fell in love with every last one of them that day. So when someone asks me why I like butches, I tell them this. I learned what it felt like to be cared for and loved at the hands of about 50 strangers.

And let me tell you something else, young lesbians. When you carry on about how you “don’t get” butches and “If you wanted a man, you’d get a man” you are showing your ignorance, along with your ass.