By Jody Valley
Q: I have had a friend for 15 years; she and I have been through a lot together. The problem is that I really don’t want to continue our friendship, but I’m not sure exactly how to end it. The problem I am having with my friendship with her is not something new; she has always been this way. She is always making comments about people that are different than she is. It may be their lack of education, not having much money, being a different religion, or a different race. She doesn’t say a lot, she just makes little rude jokes and comments. I once told her that she shouldn’t think like that, but since then I have just ignore it and change the subject. I figured she was a lost cause, anyway.
Now, I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman, “Lavern,” who happens to be black. She has two wonderful children. We plan on living together and raising the children togetherÑtheir father is dead. Anyway, I don’t want to bring my friend, “Myra,” around because I know how prejudiced she is, and I know how she makes these jokes and comments and often doesn’t care who she offends. I’m afraid she might say something to Lavern and insult her. I just couldn’t stand to have her or her children (soon to be mine too) be hurt like that. Up until now, I have just been saying I am too busy to see her, and eventually I hope she will quit calling. Do I owe her an explanation as to why I don’t want to see her anymore? I don’t want to hurt Myra’s feelings, either.
A: Yes, you do owe her an explanation and maybe it will teach her something. But, you also need to look at your role in this relationship and this prejudicial behavior. For 15 years, you have been part of ignoring her comments and changing the subject. When you don’t confront prejudice head on, you are condoning itÑand are just as culpable as the person saying the words or doing an act of prejudice. Hopefully, you will learn to stand up for what you believe, not just when you are in a relationship where someone you love might be hurt, but whenever you encounter prejudice in any form.
Q: I am twenty-three and in college. I have lots of friends both male and female, but so far I haven’t found any guy who sees me as more than a friend. I am told I have a good personality. I’m not gorgeous but I surely am not bad looking, and people seem to like me. It is just that even when I date, it never goes anywhere. I date quite a lot, but it always ends with I really like you but I just want to be your friend. Or, “I’m not looking for a relationship right now.” I really want a relationship and I think I have a lot to offer someone, if they would just give me a chance. I am feeling so desperate. I am not even having a good time when I go out anymore. What can I do to get guys to see me as someone they want to spend their life with, not just someone they want to be friends with?
A: I can feel your desperation from here and I’m sure the guys you date feel it, too. Your desperation will chase off any potential relationship. Try to put your need to have a long term relationship aside, and just enjoy guys and the dating process. If you just relax, love will find you.
PS: By the way, at 23, if you are dating guys your age, you may not yet find someone who wants to make a life commitment. Many people at 23 are just not ready for that.
Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The Dear Jody column appears weekly.