I'm a bookish, somewhat introverted 40-year-old woman who has a lot of male friends. But that's all they ever are. More than once I've heard the phrase: "You're not like other women. I can talk to you!" It's meant as a compliment, but it doesn't feel so complimentary when I realize that they would never think of me as a romantic partner. Maybe if I were like other women, they would want to do something more than talk.
How can I get them to see me in a new light? I also get the virgin/whore thing from men -- my demeanor is reserved, but I'm not a virgin or (I don't think) especially prudish. Once I was absent-mindedly singing along to the "Hip Hop Hooray, ho" rap song, and the guy said, "You shouldn't even know what that means." I was 30 years old!
Any ideas on how to be more than a shoulder to cry on?
Old Maid Librarians Need Love Too
Dear Old Maid,
The quickest way to make a man see you in a new light is with candles. If you want him to regard you as a romantic partner, try bringing him up to your apartment and taking your dress off. Take him by the hand, lead him into your bedroom, undress partially yourself, and then undress him, slowly, piece by piece, and put your hands on him and do the things to him that you would like done to yourself. He will see you differently because of what you do with your hands and your mouth. That will change what is in his brain.
I say this because I sense that you are thinking that the way to get a man is to transform yourself into an object of desire and then wait for him to approach you. I would say that is the long way around. Instead of trying to transform yourself into an object of his desire, why not instead come to see the man as an object of your own desire, and advance upon him? Thusly you foment a bloodless coup. Or perhaps there would be a little blood, but not enough to call the police about.
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How is the threat of war affecting your marriage, your dating, your home life? Are you talking with your parents or grandparents about their experiences of war? Are you worrying about your kids? Are you reassessing your plans? Does this seem like déjà vu, or like something unprecedented in history? And how does the threat of war affect the way you view certain books and movies? Do particular works of art gain a new poignancy because of the shadow of violence that looms over our future?
Please write to us at email@example.com and tell us what you think. We will read them all, and we will publish as many as we can.
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Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.