Showing posts with label dating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dating. Show all posts

November 9, 2012

Limits

In calculus, we define the limit of a function f(x) as the value L that f(x) approaches as x gets close to some fixed point c. We say as x->c, f(x)->L. This value L does not have to be a part of the range of the function; it's a value that you approach as you get closer and closer to c, without actually getting to c. 

I think about limits a lot. Not because I've had to formalize the definition of a limit in my Advanced Calculus class (over, and over, and over...). No, it's not because it's such an important reference from Mean Girls. It's because I think about how close I get to speaking up, approaching a guy, and get the courage to ask him out...

and never actually do it.

It's semiformal season, and I would like to ask somebody to come with me. But the sheer thought of going up to the person I like and mincing words together that make me sound like an intelligible human being gives me chills. I've sat in my room contemplating the worst forms of rejection I could potentially face, and every time, when I realize that I'm just wasting time and energy, I become a little more courageous and approach the limit that I'm interested in evaluating. Yet when it comes to the actual execution, I retreat, and move farther away from the limit.

I like to think I know my limits. I know who is and who isn't within my options, or so I think. Every person that I've liked recently falls within my "not gonna happen" category, due to the lack of faith I have in myself. Instead of attempting to move closer to my point of interest, I try and build an open set around my current location in my development and hope to capture my limit of interest. This open set seems closed from my perspective, and I shut out everybody because I find that I'm still not ready.

I've spent the past year "free-of-thinking-about-relationships" because I needed to take care of myself. Previously, I found my relationship function going on tangent curves and taking on indeterminate values because I did not have time to evaluate my personal limits when I was scrambling to find a boyfriend. My self-esteem was on an asymptote, heading for negative infinity and lacking any hopes for increasing. Once I started taking care of myself, my functions became bounded and smoother, and I have found myself at a stable equilibrium.

But now that I've worked on improving myself, taking time to evaluate my limits, I'm back to confusion at the limit of a potential relationship as I approach this guy. I want to make sure I'm avoiding an unstable point, and getting closer and closer to building up my courage.

I'm not content with approaching the limit and getting closer and closer.

I want to reach this elusive point.

The limit unfortunately does not tell us what the function is at this point. The limit gives the behavior as you get closer and closer, but often, as is life, the function is discontinuous, and the evaluation is not the same as the limit. This is a concern in prediction, because even if the limit seems certain, no matter how "confident" I think I will be rejected, as the limit tells me, there is still the opportunity for a disjunction, and I might be happily surprised.

The curve is status quo; it's reaching beyond the toolbox of limitations that makes this so much fun.

October 5, 2012

Get Out There


A couple of weeks ago I attended this year’s first session of Man to Man, an GBTQ discussion group at the Center. We started off by making a long list of things that we would like to discuss during the course of the year – things like gay PDA, advocacy, body image, but a common theme that almost everyone mentioned was relationships. That is, dating. A lot of people complained that Duke has a hookup culture, which is not new news to any of us, but it begs a question: if so many of us are discontent with the hookup culture, why doesn’t anyone try to change it?

During Sophomore Convocation, Dean Sue urged our class to put ourselves out there and “have the courage to date.” She noted that there is always [and always will be] some risk associated with love. She was right, there are risks associated with love. Love can seem scary and putting yourself out there definitely increases your possibility of getting hurt, but the hope is that all the heartache you may go through will be worth it in the end.  If you want to get to know someone, ask him/her to have coffee or lunch with you.  Sure, there’s a chance that you won’t find ‘the one’ immediately, but there isn’t any harm in going on a few casual dates with someone to get to know him/her better. There isn’t any pressure to ask him/her out again if you decide you aren’t interested, but it’s likely that even if things aren’t going to happen romantically, you will have at least made a new friend. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Complaining about Duke’s hookup culture without actively trying to change it isn’t constructive. I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with hooking up as long as it is mutually consensual, but if you want more, then you owe it to yourself to put yourself out there, cause you never know who might be waiting for you to make the first move. You may get hurt, but “don't brood. Get on with living and loving. You don't have forever.” - Leo Buscaglia


September 21, 2012

Unrequited Like: A Fresh Perspective

[Editors Note: Hey y'all, I just wanted to put a little reminder for you about the Center's Pride Prep party this afternoon at 4. We're meeting in the LGBT Center to have some food, drink, and good times. We'll be making signs to hold on the float at Pride next Saturday so if you want to make your own sign to carry, stop on by! We've got supplies!]

I have had, over my nineteen years, my fair share of experiences with what I’m going to call unrequited like, that is, a crush gone wrong, unreturned feelings, and the like. I wouldn’t really call it “love” because that’s too strong of a word; some of the people for whom I’ve had feelings are people that, quite honestly, I know almost nothing about besides the surface level. Perhaps “obsession” is a better word, though the negative connotation associated with that word makes me loath to use it to describe a crush. To be as gay as humanly possible, I’ll just say I felt like Elphaba in “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked.

Needless to say, having unreturned feelings for someone is not very fun – it made me doubt a lot of things about myself: was it my personality? My intelligence? My looks? Or was it just that I, as a whole, was simply not desirable?  This little self-pity party was, in retrospect, unnecessary. Maybe it wasn’t anything about me; it is, after all, perfectly possible for someone to be intelligence, attractive, and have a good personality and still not ‘do it’ for everyone.  

So, he didn’t like me back. I got over it. That’s pretty much how that whole deal works, but I have to admit that I’ve held a bit of a grudge since then. I know it’s silly and immature, but I can’t really help but feel some animosity towards the boy who, when I had the bittersweet experience of close-quarters communication, either ignored me or was downright rude. But “hey,” I told myself, “at least he’s talking to you, even if it is a ‘fuck off’ here and there.”

This summer I had the tables turned on me. By that, I mean that instead of being the lovesick mess, I was on the receiving end of an unrequited like. It has changed my perspective about my experience last year quite a bit. I will admit that, when my feelings towards the guy in question were unreturned, I probably played the victim. I’m not ashamed of that, that’s exactly what it felt like from my perspective. But the great thing about perspective is that it can change. Does this mean I forgive my ex-crush for the way that he treated me? No, not entirely, but I better understand why he acted the way he did and how I can act differently so as not to put someone through that same experience.

 It was difficult to decide how to treat the situation, especially after having first-hand experience as the unwanted suitor. I had a difficult time deciding whether it was best to ignore it completely and hope that the clean cut from him would allow him to move on or whether that would, as in my case, simply turn the crush into bitterness. Though it was difficult and pretty awkward for both of us, I found it was better for our relationship in the long run to talk to him about his crush and explain that, while I valued his friendship, I was not currently interested in pursuing a relationship with him. Things still aren’t great between us, but I think it’s important to have the decency to treat him and his feelings with respect, even if it means a period of hard feelings may occur. I hope that, in the long run, closing the door on him will allow him to realize that there are many other suitable doors down the hall.

Being the recipient of an unwanted crush is hard. It’s awkward. It’s tedious. But when you find yourself as the recipient of unwanted affection, try to remember however ‘hard,’ ‘awkward,’ or ‘tedious’ it is to deal with someone liking you; it’s many times more difficult and uncomfortable for the other person.  To continue my door analogy, wouldn’t you rather someone answer the door to tell you that “no,” they didn’t, in fact, “order the tall, fair-skinned, brunette with freckles” and that “someone must have made a mistake” instead of ignoring the doorbell completely?

January 14, 2012

Nerves

Hi, everyone.

I've been nervous all week. I'm a nervous kind of person - introvert, type-A, perfectionist, you know the drill. The first week of classes every semester never fails to magnify my usual jumpiness or uncertainty, even though I've had a first week of classes every year since I was four. Y'all know that I'm a senior, so this is my last - and arguably my most important - semester. I graduate in May, but in the meantime I have to write a thesis and get into graduate school, so I'm already feeling the pressure. However, it's not just school that has me a little unbalanced right now.

In case you haven't talked to me for more than ten minutes, I'll let you in on a little [not-so] secret bit of information: I'm a TOTAL choir geek. Now, when I say that, you probably think of the 200 high school girls who descended upon the Chapel to sing last semester, when Eric Whitacre came to visit. I was not there, but I'm told there was much swooning and sobbing during the actual performance. I cannot say that I've never cried during a performance, but the music that moves me is usually around 400 years old. I'm lucky enough to be in an ensemble (Vespers) that regularly sings this repertoire, and it just so happens that we have a concert today, at 8PM in the Chapel (SHAMELESS PLUG: BE THERE IT'LL ROCK, I SWEAR!! And it's only 50 minutes long.). So, we've been rehearsing all week to prepare for it, and it is definitely one of the things that has made me nervous this week.

My parents, who are incredibly involved in my life, will be there. And so will my girlfriend. My parents know about her, but they haven't met, and I haven't told them that she will be there. Meeting parents is so stressful, and I didn't want her to feel that I was pushing her to meet them. So, she may or may not decide that she wants to. If she does, I have to admit that I'm also going to be nervous about how it could go. I have no doubts that she will be as adorable and charming as ever, but since when are nerves logical?


December 13, 2011

Q and A with Your Token Queer Friend

Since it’s finals week and my brain has become entirely useless, I decided to do something fun for this post. I invited my six closest friends to ask me any question they wanted about My Queer Life. I did my best to answer [most] of their questions based on my personal experiences, but of course, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions/responses! Whenever I’m talking about the community as a whole, keep in mind that my responses are based on my personal opinions/view-points and that they may not be true for everyone.

Who has been the hardest to come out to? Did you have any negative reactions?
Well, you [my best friends] were. I’m not sure why it was so hard to talk about my sexuality with you all, the people who probably know me better than anyone. Maybe that was it. Since you know me so well, I was scared that it would change something if I told you that the version of me you knew wasn’t actually who I was. It felt like I had been lying to you or something. Of course, you all knew who I was all along—probably even before I did. And now that we do talk about it, I realize that what changed our relationship was the fact that I hid something so important to me from you.

In terms of negative reactions, I haven’t really had any so far. The closest I’ve come to a negative reaction was one individual who, while trying to be respectful and open, asked several rather uncomfortable questions. Perhaps uncomfortable isn’t the right word…it was more that they were coming from a very skewed perspective.

Do you feel you've been able to express more/different parts of your personality since you've been out (cliche but do you feel more YOU)?
I absolutely feel more ‘me’ now that I’ve started coming out. I feel as though I gained a lot of self-confidence when I came out, which helps me to express myself in all types of situations. The weight of trying to hide something so central to your identity inevitably has consequences that affect how you live your life and how you interact with other people on a daily basis. Feeling confident in myself has allowed other aspects of my personality to become more vibrant.

Who is expected to pay for the first date? What's the protocol?
Generally, I think that whoever makes the invitation should pay. Then again, in my experience same-sex dating is much more egalitarian than heterosexual dating. Rather than there being the expectation that the ‘gentleman’ should always pay, there seems to be an expectation that same-sex couples will take turns paying. Offering to pay for dinner/a movie/whatever else people do on dates is a really nice gesture that certainly isn’t lost when you’re both making the effort.

What's considered sex for lesbians?
This pretty much sums it up.

Are there any terms/phrases/questions that someone has said offhandedly that you considered offensive? And on the flip side, can you think of anything that other people may tiptoe around because they think it's offensive but actually it's not? Do you find it offensive when girls jokingly refer to themselves as lesbians?
I can’t think of anything that people have said offhandedly that I find offensive. People seem to generally mean well, and if they don’t, they tend to make their offensive statement very clear. The only word that I consider offensive is “dyke”—but then again, I’m only offended when someone who is not a queer woman uses it.

It seems like people tiptoe around the word ‘homosexual’, and I’ve even had someone directly ask me if it’s offensive. I personally don’t find it offensive, just awkward. I probably wouldn’t talk about any of my straight friends as heterosexuals—it’s weird, right?

I’m not sure if I would say that I’m offended when girls jokingly refer to themselves as lesbians, but I am annoyed by it. First of all, I think joking about being a lesbian trivializes the way queer women feel and live their life. The fact that I date women isn’t funny—it’s just normal. Secondly, I feel as though the context of these jokes is usually the bigger issue. It’s frustrating when girls pretend to be lesbians to get male attention (#mixedsignals?) or call themselves lesbians because they’re wearing not-so-feminine clothing (#lesbianslikeskirtstoo). We know you want to be one of us, but you can’t. Get over it.

How do you think same sex relationships compare to straight ones? Are there 'roles' as often stereotyped or not so much?
Same-sex relationships are pretty much exactly the same as straight relationships. Same-sex couples go on dates, cuddle, fight, make-up, work on communication, fall in love, get jealous, break-up, and do it all over again. As far as there being ‘roles’ in the relationship, I think that there are always roles that people play: someone is the pursuer, someone prefers to be pursued, someone likes planning dates, someone brings up the difficult topics that need to be discussed, someone typically initiates sex, and so on. I feel that in general, who plays these roles within a relationship depends on the personality of each partner, not their gender.

Do people usually assume you’re straight or gay?
I think that people generally assume I’m gay, but then again, who knows. People surprise me sometimes.

Would you say as many lesbians want to or plan on have children as straight girls?
I’m not entirely sure about this one. My initial reaction is that whether or not women want to have children isn’t really impacted by their sexuality. These days, people have so many options in terms of starting a family that it is perfectly reasonable for same-sex couples to have the same hopes/expectations about having children that opposite-sex couples do. However, my experience with this topic is limited, so I would love to hear other people’s opinions!

Do you think you can tell if others are gay better than most people? How?
I think I have a pretty good ‘gaydar’. Maybe it’s because being queer means that I know what it’s like to go through the process of questioning/coming out, or maybe I’m just particularly perceptive. Who knows? I think it’s pretty easy to pick up on the innate sense of confidence that queer individuals have (yes, even those of us who are super awkward have this confidence).

As far as the gay community and your relationships with other lesbians increasing.. what's your relationship with gay men like?
Great question! While I have met more gay men since I came out and started hanging out at the Center, I definitely wouldn’t say that I’ve built any significant relationships with gay men. I’m not sure if this is a product of the LGBTQ community at Duke being divided in some senses, or if it’s because I tend not to build strong relationships with men in general (gay or straight).


What do you do if a guy tries to hit on you? Do you tell them right away, play hard to get because that's funny, let them keep talking..?
Let me start by saying this doesn’t happen very often…most guys seem to get the idea pretty quickly. For those that don’t, my first reaction is a pity laugh (haha not really…but it is kind of sad). I don’t feel the need to out myself right away—“Hey, how’s it going? My name’s Logan and I’m into girls.” Awkward. Making polite conversation is nice and an easy way to work in little details that will let them know I’m not interested. You have to give them props for making the effort, right?

That said, when a guy tries to hit on me for his sister, I’m all for it! #truestory


The heterosexual Duke relationship culture is generally viewed as hook-up oriented, what's the Duke lesbian relationship culture? How would you say it's different?
In my opinion, the ‘lesbian relationship culture’ is very much relationship-oriented rather than hook-up oriented. The stereotype that queer women tend to get in serious relationships really quickly seems to be true—if anyone has an explanation for why this is I would love to hear it! Realistically, queer women on campus can’t really afford to be hook-up oriented because the community is so small. The chances of finding another queer woman at Shooters—much less having a D-floor make-out with her—are pretty low. That’s not to say that women don’t want to pursue hook-ups instead of relationships, but rather that the community isn’t big enough for that to work—inevitably, you’ll end up hooking-up with a girl your best friend dated two years ago who cheated on her with your other best friend who’s now dating a new girl, who also happened to have a fling with the girl you just hooked up with. You get the point.

Girls often dress "slutty" to attract male attention, what do you do to attract female attention?
Get a queer haircut and wear flannel? Joking. Kind of. I don’t usually make a conscious effort to attract attention. I find confidence most attractive, so I guess that goes both ways? For me, the most important thing is feeling good about the way I’m presenting myself.

What is something you've learned about women that you might not have?
Interacting with other women in a romantic context is very different from a purely platonic one. It’s hard to name anything very specific that I’ve learned, but I think it’s fair to say that I respect women so much more after coming out. Maybe that sounds weird, and it’s certainly not implying that I didn’t respect them before, but it seems like ‘respect’ really is the best word for it. I think I always viewed women in a heterosexual context as being almost dependent on men in relationships—not really taking charge of what they wanted. Seeing queer women as strong, independent, confident, and inspired is really awesome.

What's the biggest advantage to being a lesbian?
Getting to date girls. Girls are great :)