Dear Worrier Princess: Wallflowering into Full Bloom
Dear Worrier Princess is an advice column based off The Ex-Girlfriend of My Ex-Girlfriend Is My Girlfriend, the viral queer advice zine by Maddy Court (a.k.a.@xenaworrierprincess on Instagram).
In this column, an invisible femme and a shy butch struggle in the flirting department. How do you approach a babe? What’s the difference between being friendly and being flirty? What are follow-up texts and how can they improve your dating life?
Queery #1: Hey! Queer gal from mtl wondering what advice you would give to someone who is desperately trying to catch the eye of other queer cuties but is also constantly assumed to be straight so nothing ever happens. Like I feel like even if I’m flirting with someone they always mistake it for me being friendly. Sometimes I wonder if I changed my appearance I’d finally get the recognition I seek but that feels so phony to me. How do I remain my authentic self while getting the attention of other ladies or femmes?
You feel at home in your femme identity and that’s amazing. You don’t want to change your appearance to be more visibly queer—read: butcher, more masc. I feel this femme pain! It blows to be invisible, especially in queer spaces. When I’m not sure if a babe is catching my drift, I’ll say something like “I’m too gay for this party!!” or “my ex-girlfriend had that shirt.” Sometimes, I try to act casual and slip it into the conversation. But most of the time, I just blurt it out. It’s simple and effective. It gets the queer solidarity percolating. You can side-eye straight people together—you know, bonding.
Another aspect of your question is that you come across as friendly, not flirty. I’m not surprised others perceive you as friendly—queer women care, a lot. We tend to be expert listeners. We ask thoughtful questions. We want to connect, you know? But there’s a fine line between getting to know someone and interviewing them. For example, I often find myself fielding intense, personal questions at parties. These people are nice and wonderful, but they’re curious about my Five Year Plan and I’m sweating. Flirting should be fun and feel a little bit like middle school. Talk about the hostess’s cat, a painting on the wall, whatever’s directly in front of you. Make stupid jokes and a lot of eye contact. Definitely ask for their number.
If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s follow-up texts. Asking for someone’s number is already flirty, but initiating a text convo will actually get the ball rolling. Don’t unload your emotional landscape or send context-less emojis. Don’t make it hard! Just be like, “it was nice talking last night. what’s your favorite Fast and Furious movie?” or “it was nice talking to you last night. can we hang out this weekend?” Take a selfie of yourself grocery shopping and imply you need help cooking dinner. Send them a picture of your pet. Be bold.
Although not everyone can be publically out, the internet is a powerful site of queer visibility for all types of presentations and bodies. Online dating, especially, enables a level of transparency and straightforwardness that’s difficult to find offline. You can broadcast exactly who you’re interested in and what kind of relationship you’re looking for. For lots of people, flirting is less scary when it’s mitigated by a screen.
Sadly, at the end of the day, there is no formula when it comes to flirting. Some people are deeply clueless when it comes to picking up romantic, more-than-friends vibes. Some people don’t want to date anyone. Like crop circles, attraction is a mystery. Here’s what’s for certain: you don’t need to sacrifice your authentic femme self for anything, not even babes.
Queery #2: I’m a 37-year-old butch who still doesn’t know how to approach women. Do you have any tips for a painfully shy butch?
Have you ever gone to a party where you don’t know anyone? You pet the dog, compliment the cheese spread, and try to talk to people—but nobody will let you merge. All the other guests are friends and they’re busy rehashing inside jokes, so you sit there and peel the label off a beer bottle. Sometimes these people are actual jerks. But most of the time, they’re just scared. It takes energy to initiate a conversation with a stranger. It’s a little vulnerable. A lot of people would rather not try. I think about this situation whenever I feel socially anxious. It reminds me how easy it is to shut myself off from new people and how most of the time, even people who intimidate me are hoping someone will just extend themselves and say hi.
The truth is that you can Google “ice breaker questions” to infinite results, but it’s most effective to just walk up and say “hey, I’m Shy Butch.” If that’s outside of your comfort zone, give yourself an official capacity. For instance, I ask the host if I can slice lemons, bartend, or refill the chips—this way I’m still at the party, but there’s no pressure to act or be a certain way. Another idea: bring a unique and fun dish, so everyone will be like “damn, who brought the ceviche?” My ex-girlfriend volunteered at an LGBTQ+ community center because she made so many friends tabling at events. My friend K swears by writing her number and a cute note on a post-it, giving it to the girl she’s interested in, and just walking away. It comes across as smooth, when she’s actually just shy. And don’t forget about the internet. The internet enables bold moves. For instance, heart a handful of her pics on Instagram, including one really old one. Send a brief, to-the-point DM like, “thinking of you” or “can I see you again?” See my answer to Queery #1 for advice about flirting and the importance of follow-up texts. All you need is the courage to hit send.
Finally, reframe your shyness as a strength. As an Aries moon with a youngest child complex, I cherish the introverted people in my life. I love people who show me that it’s enough just to be present and together. Believe me when I say that your shyness as deeply, profoundly hot. You’re introspective. You’re still waters that run deep. You are less history and more mystery. When you talk, people listen. I’m calling it now: this is the age of the shy butch.
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.