Dear Worrier Princess: Dynamic Days
Dear Worrier Princess is a queer advice column based off The Ex-Girlfriend of My Ex-Girlfriend Is My Girlfriend, an advice zine by Maddy Court (a.k.a @xenaworrierprincess on Instagram).
Q: I am 20 and recently became friends with an older queer woman who is 31. I think there is chemistry and am interested in pursuing something romantic with her but the age gap makes me a little anxious. what if she thinks I am just a baby? would the power dynamic be too inherent to have a healthy relationship?
A: Honestly, I’d be worried if your crush didn’t think of you as a baby. I know that sounds harsh. I don’t mean baby in a negative way—I can tell from your queery that you’re mature, perceptive, and thoughtful. But trust me: there’s an entire lifetime separating 20 from 31. The problem with dating someone significantly older boils down to life experience, or the wisdom and knowledge that results from relationships, work, reading, adversity, and just like, living. For me, life experience is knowing I’ll be fine after a bad break-up or setback because I’ve gone through similar hardships and survived. It’s a stronger sense of self and the ability to discern when I’m being lied to or manipulated. For some lucky people, age also comes with money and resources. Life experience is difficult to define, but it is absolutely a kind of power. It also levels off, which is why this situation would be totally different if you were, say, 30 and your crush was 41.
I’m not saying you can’t build a solid friendship with your crush, or that your age means you have less to offer as a person. I am, however, confirming your hunch that this relationship is a bad idea.
Q: My professor is out, married to a woman with two kids, and is 50-something years old. She can clearly read the fact I'm gay based on eye-contact alone, but I have trouble trying bridge a friendship with her because I find myself feeling awkward interacting with her, and I respect the chain of command. I guess I'm afraid she'll misinterpret my interest in being friends as lacking respect for her marriage, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth, but also, I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable in the moment. Regardless, I'm pretty awkward around her, but I'm about to graduate and really want to convey how much I appreciated her advice along the way and that it would be nice to keep in touch. Is this weird/how should I go about doing this?
It’s never weird to tell someone they inspired you or impacted your life!!! I used three exclamation points because teaching is difficult and culturally devalued, educators deserve to know how important their work is. Remember that your professor became a professor because she wanted to share her knowledge and cultivate the future of her field. Nothing about keeping in touch is overstepping, or could be misconstrued as romantic. When I graduated from college, I gave my thesis advisor a thank-you card and a chocolate bar from Whole Foods. I also asked several of my professors if I could add them on Facebook. Most of them said yes. In the years since, I’ve reached out to old professors and asked to get coffee. I’ve looked after their cats while they went on vacation. I’ve asked for letters of rec and career advice. While I wouldn’t call my old professors “friends,” they’re definitely warm presences in my life. And if you go to grad school, socializing and with professors is normal and expected.
Give your professor a handwritten thank-you note. Include something like “I hope we can stay in touch” and include your email. You could also include a tiny gift like a candle, gourmet pet snacks, unique vegetable seasoning, or a cute pot of honey. Even if she doesn’t respond to the card, don’t feel weird about dropping her a casual email once some time has passed.
Q: I have a problem. I have a crush on a recently divorced (lesbian) coworker. She’s cute and funny and interesting and I’m a dummy and can’t stop thinking about her. We don’t work together that much, but I still feel like having a crush on a coworker is a bad idea, especially when she’s probably nowhere near ready for a new relationship, and probably wouldn’t be interested in me anyways. How do I stop obsessing over her??
Nothing is hotter than an emotionally unavailable woman, especially when you’re expected to maintain a calm, professional vibe in her presence. “Bad idea” implies you can turn back time and extinguish your crush. Who are you? Tom Cruise in Minority Report—the 2002 science fiction film in which cops imprison and exploit telepathic clones in order to prevent murders?!? Work crushes are dangerous. You don’t need a telepathic clone to see that, especially if you work at a failing espresso bar and your job entails lots of alone time together. I do think, however, that you’re making a lot of assumptions about your crush. You know she’s divorced, but it’s possible her marriage was dead for a long time and the divorce was only a technicality. Maybe she’s open to dating again, or she’s someone who likes being friends first. You won’t know until you get her number, and ask her to get coffee or drinks outside of work. If turns out that she’s still grieving her marriage or isn’t interested in navigating a workplace relationship, just accept it and move forward. I wish I had concrete tips for you! Crushes are exciting, but they can also make you feel so vulnerable that you start crying in CVS.
Here’s what I do know: when a relationship is meant to be, everything falls into place. It doesn’t feel like work or scheming. For instance, I recently went on an extremely good date. After a year of sporadic Instagram DMs, we met up for coffee. We went on a walk and got tacos. We laughed so much it was stupid. I felt (feel) joy and flow with her and her butch Leo energy. It was like I was driving along and she just dropped into my convertible. That’s corny, but it’s the truth.
are you in a pickle regarding your love life? do you have a crush you can't figure out how to talk to, an ex you'd like to reconnect with but don't know if it's appropriate or the right time?
dear worrier princess answers your qs about love and strife in relationships in this complex and modern queer world.
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All illustrations for this column are done by Sid Champagne. Sid is a freelance illustrator based in Baltimore by way of the Gulf Coast. You can find them on Twitter @sid_champagne, or Instagram (more cat pics) @sidchampagne