Dear Worrier Princess: Queering it Out on Your Own
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).
Queery #1 How can I come to terms with accepting the fact that I will be friendless and single for the rest of my life? Let me explain, I am 33 years old, I don't have any friends and I've never gone on a date, ever. It's not that I don't want friends or a relationship, I very much do but when I put myself out there no matter where I'm rejected. I've tried to make friends (and successfully failed) and I've tried to find at least one woman who wants to go out, even just for coffee (again, successfully failed). This isn't just something that's been going on for weeks or months, it's been years of this. I'm tired of this endless cycle of nothing. I really hate being alone but I guess I need to face the fact I'm meant to be alone. Do you have any advice on how I can go about making this easier for me?
I have so many questions for you. Namely, what do you mean by “rejection”? Are you being ghosted or treated dismissively by potential friends, or are people explicitly telling you they’re not interested in your friendship? Here at Dear Worrier Princess, I’m only ever saying the same thing in different ways: relationships are hard. Hard to start, hard to maintain, and even harder to end. Adult life under capitalism is isolating by design—most people work themselves to exhaustion and spend their non-work time resting so they can resume working. If you struggle with getting friendships off the ground, then welcome to the club. However, if it’s your actions or expectations that are causing others to distance themselves, then it’s vital that you learn to listen and grow from their feedback.
I don’t want to seem like I’m not listening to you. I understand that you’ve accepted your solitude. But it’s apparent from your letter that you’re in pain. If solitude were a sustainable option for you, it would come more naturally. In my life, I’ve experienced several stretches of intense isolation and loneliness. One began with a breakup, the other with a relocation to a new city. Both times, I made dating profiles and asked my coworkers if they wanted to hangout. I double-texted and slid into DMs. I sat through soul-crushingly awkward internet dates. Still, everyone I met seemed overbooked and uninterested. It was demoralizing as hell. Therapy helped immeasurably. Nothing chips away at isolation like a confidential, scheduled conversation where there’s zero pressure to be likeable or funny.
Loneliness isn’t always an empty, negative feeling. It can be a reflective and powerful experience. I’m thinking specifically of two nonfiction books: The Lonely City, Oliva Liang’s reflection on how isolation shaped her experience of art and New York, and Wild, in which Cheryl Strayed describes how hiking Pacific Crest Trail alone allowed her to heal from addiction and self-destructive tendencies. When I felt like I had no one, I challenged myself to see movies and visit museums alone. I ate burritos and walked through dog parks at dusk. I volunteered and read constantly. I learned to appreciate the people in my life and to never treat anyone as dispensable. Don’t get me wrong, it was also terrible. I developed social anxiety and a nagging sense that there was something deeply wrong with me. One day, I started crying outside Walgreen’s and an elderly Christian couple thought I was a homeless teen.
I wish I could give you a shortcut or some fresh revelations. All I know is that it takes patience and time to build a community from scratch. Therapy helps, too.
Queery #2: A couple months ago my first gay relationship ended. This relationship also coincided with my coming out. I'm pretty young (just turned 21), but I missed that time in college where you're supposed to make gay friends because I was closeted. Now I have mostly straight friends (who I love and adore), but I feel very alone in coming out and everything that comes with it. It makes me miss my ex-girlfriend just because with that relationship came my only close lesbian friend, but I know there is no way I would be in that relationship again. I go out to the lesbian bars in my area sometimes, but it seems like every person already has a group and has been out for years. My general feeling going out is lots of weird standoffish vibes and mixed signals. Lots of groups of girls that seem to have a squad straight out of The L Word and it leaves me sitting there like, when did this happen??? How did I not get this memo??? Did you guys come out two centuries ago?? It doesn't help that I don't appear gay at ALL and the lesbian bars in my area have problems of being packed with weird straight people and I kind of feel like I'm read that way.
First of all, congratulations on not sliding back towards your ex! I also came out with the guidance of my first girlfriend. When we broke up, I told myself I couldn’t navigate queer spaces without her.
A few columns back, I wrote about femme invisibility and how to make friends when everyone is cliqued up. My main thesis is that when people act standoffish or exclusive, it’s usually because they’re insecure and genuinely unsure how to interact with new people. Also, allow me a brief grandma moment: social media. It’s great in many ways, but it’s causing our basic social skills to rust over!! When we see someone cute and interesting in the real world, it’s so easy to just tell ourselves, “maybe we’ll match on Tinder” or “I’ll just Instastalk them for the next 3 years.” I know I’ve done it.
It’s definitely possible to make friends at a gay bar. But for most people, friendships develop after spending significant amounts of time together. I lived in Philly between the ages of 17 to 23. Whenever I go back to visit, the friends I’m most anxious to see are former coworkers and people I met volunteering at a queer thrift shop. When you’re held in close proximity by a job or a shared goal, you’re forced to communicate and find common ground. Are there LGBTQ+ organizations at your college that you can get involved in? Can you work a gender studies course into your schedule? Once you start making acquaintances, you can start initiating hangouts. It will only be a matter of time before your single queer friend introduces you to their friends and those friends introduce you to their friends.
All this is just to say that you haven’t missed the window for making queer friends. The window doesn’t exist. When you’re 21, friendships are constantly shifting. Everyone is changing and sleeping together and breaking up. I moved between three major friend groups in college. My closest friends my senior year were people who, when I met them as a freshman, I dismissed as not my type. Life circles around in weird ways. Right now, there are closeted people at your college who look up to you as a role model. I promise.
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?
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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