Keeping it in Your Professional Pants, “The Window,” and Telepathic Hints

by Lindsay Miller


I have such a crush on my intern. I’m not her supervisor, though I’m a senior person on a team that she is also on, so I’m in a leadership role in relation to her. I’m only two years older than she is. She is so ambiguously queer I can’t even stand it. We either have extremely subtle, almost-undetectable queer-girl sexy eye contact going on, or I am *totally imagining everything.* When she leaves our office at the end of the school year, can I ask her out? TBH I don’t actually want to date her, just make out with her. I really don’t want to be a creep, or be seriously unprofessional, or hurt her in any way. If the answer is “This is a horrible idea; keep it in your pants,” could you please advise on how I am supposed to do any work when her hair is SO shiny and she sits RIGHT next to me?

Definitely keep it in your pants while she’s working in your office. Even if your workplace doesn’t have a specific policy against it, dating someone you work with, especially someone over whom you have any kind of professional authority, is just asking for trouble. There are just too many ways for you to fuck each other over professionally if anything goes wrong. Making out with her might be safe, or it might be a slippery slope into the land of It’s Complicated And We Have To Work Together Every Day And Why The Hell Did I Do That. What if you want to make out again, and she doesn’t? What if she wants to be girlfriends, and you don’t? Or what if you hit on her and she’s like “WHOA what no I’m totally not into you that way” and then sitting next to her and looking at her shiny hair out of the corner of your eye feels like getting your ego punched in the nose (yes, egos have noses) over and over and over again?

I don’t see any problem with asking her out once her internship is over, though. Just be like “So, now that I can no longer influence your career in any way, want to grab a drink sometime?” Until that day comes, do whatever you can to keep yourself focused on the task at hand and not her subtle sexy eye contact. If it helps, scientists estimate that 83% of all sexy eye contact is entirely in your imagination.

I’m a relatively femme lesbian who is applying for au pair jobs in the UK about now. Interviews are coming up, and I’m not really sure how to approach things regarding my personal life. On the one hand, I’m not going to be bringing anyone back to a shared house, or wearing my “I Can’t Even Think Straight” shirt, and I certainly don’t see being gay as something I’d normally bring up in a job interview. On the other hand, I’d be looking after their kids, and I’d be living with them. I assume we’ll have conversations at some point, and playing the pronoun game about my dates isn’t something I’ve had to do since high school. I don’t want to seem like I’ve falsely represented myself at all, but I also don’t want to make it seem like being gay is something I have to announce like I’m a sex offender. I don’t know, do you have any advice?

There are lots of options here, none of them inherently better or worse than any of the others. You can disclose early; you can keep it entirely to yourself; you can wait for it to come up naturally. Whichever approach feels most comfortable to you is probably the right one.

Here’s something to keep in mind, though: As a job seeker, you get to — and probably should — ask questions of a prospective employer. You get to make decisions about what kind of work environment will be safe and healthy for you. I know it’s easy to forget about your power to choose when you’re desperate to get a job, and sometimes, understandably, the necessity of keeping a roof over your head means you compromise on what you need from an employer. But if you don’t need this job today — if you can survive off your savings for a little while, or you’re already employed in a field you like less but can put up with — I think it’s worth your time to make sure the person who hires you is going to treat you well, regardless of your orientation.

At some point in your job interview, your potential new boss will say “Do you have any questions for me?” That’s when you say: “I’m gay, and while I don’t expect my personal life to have any effect on my work, I’d prefer not to hide it when I’m living with you. Do you anticipate that being a problem?” This is a totally valid question and not one you need to be ashamed about asking. If your employer is a homophobe, you’re not going to have an HR department to appeal to, plus it’s not like you’ll be able to go home at night and rant about your shitty boss to your roommate. For the sake of your safety and peace of mind, I really recommend that you address it up front and make sure you’re not getting into a situation you’ll regret later on.

I think the short version of my question is: have I missed my window to experiment?

I started wondering if I might fancy women in middle school. I’ve never stopped vaguely wondering it since, but have also never done anything about it. There are two reasons for this, I think. The first is that I don’t generally experience sexual attraction at first sight. I have certainly experienced the same aesthetic appreciation of women as I have of men, but I don’t find I open up enough to experience real, physical attraction to someone until I know them quite well (and even that, very rarely) and, as stated, I’ve never gone to that place with any women.

The other reason makes me feel like a horrible person, but here it is. I went to a university with a wildly skewed male/female ratio, and therefore a big reputation for girls who were “bi until graduation.” I know, I know. But I was right on the judgment bandwagon, especially because I moved in friend circles with girls who were straight with boyfriends but would make out at parties for attention. And because I was so busy judging them, I was of course much too terrified of being judged to experiment with ladies myself — because what if it turned out I was like them, just a straight girl who wanted attention? And while of course that’s horrible and reductive and judgmental, there’s a large part of me that’s still afraid that’s just what I am.

So, have I missed my window to experiment? I didn’t run around finding myself sexually in college, and now I’m afraid it’s too late. I’m afraid if I try to go out with women, I’ll be using them as an experiment and therefore taking advantage of them if it turns out that all of this is just some weird neurosis. Surely, I tell myself, by the time you’re 24 you’re supposed to already know whether the heck you’re straight or not — and if you’re too spazzy to have figured it out, it doesn’t seem at all fair to foist that problem on some unsuspecting lady who just wants to go on a date.

The short version of my answer is: Nah, you’re cool.

The longer version goes something like this. If you think you might want to make out with a woman (once you’ve had time to get to know her and establish an emotional connection), there’s a really good chance you’re attracted to women, so it’s fine to seek out women as potential romantic or sexual partners. You know this already! But you’re all twisted up inside with self-doubt and, if I’m not mistaken, a pretty good-sized dose of internalized biphobia, and it’s making you feel ashamed of your desires.

It’s totally okay to be a queer woman who hasn’t had any experience with women by the age of 24. There’s no cutoff date for being queer (although priority registration is available online). I actually think you, and the culture at large, need to let go of the idea that dating women is “experimenting.” It’s normal to date lots of different kinds of people, especially in your twenties, in order to figure out what exactly you’re looking for in a partner. Referring to that process as “dating” when it’s between a dude and a lady and “experimenting” when it’s between two ladies is a way of delegitimizing queer women’s sexuality, so let’s try to make 2015 the year we do less of that.

And, while we’re at it, maybe we can let go of the idea that girls who make out with other girls when they already have boyfriends are just straight girls who want attention. I guarantee you that at least some of those girls you looked down on in college have gone on to date chicks. Just because someone’s first forays into girl-on-girl action occur in a male-gaze-directed environment doesn’t mean she’s not enjoying it for its own sake. Maybe if you work on dismantling the idea that the existence of a boyfriend negates same-sex attraction — that is, if you actively try to overcome your biphobia toward other women — some of your self-directed biphobia will also fade.

When I say that you need to get rid of your problematic thoughts, I mean you should actually and consciously work to replace those thoughts with different, more productive ones. When you think “Straight girls who make out with girls for attention are so gross,” stop yourself and instead say, “Just because a girl has a boyfriend doesn’t mean she’s straight, and any consensual sexual activity between adults is cool with me.” When you think “I’m too old to be wondering whether I’m straight,” stop yourself and say, “I’ll be learning new things about myself all my life, and I’m never too old to try something that I think might make me happy.” When you think “I wonder if that girl over there is single?” make yourself go over and strike up a conversation with her.

It’s okay to ask a woman out on a date even if you’re not sure you’re interested in sexing her up or being her girlfriend. The whole point of the date is to determine whether there’s any short-term or long-term potential. If you go out with a woman and there’s no spark, you don’t have to call her again. Maybe after a few fizzles you’ll decide you’re not particularly into girls after all; maybe you’ll realize that you’re super into girls; maybe you’ll go back and forth your whole life. All of those things are perfectly valid and fine, but you’re only going to resolve them once you get out of your own head and into the game. Good luck!

I am a queer cis woman in a long term relationship. We’ve been together about a year and a half and are planning to move in together this summer. I also identify as asexual and have done for about 5 years. My partner knew this before we started seeing each other and they totally respect this and have let me know in no uncertain terms that sex is an optional part of our relationship. To this end they don’t usually initiate sexual contact because they don’t want to pressure me. I personally enjoy touching my partner sexually as I love making them feel amazing and expressing my feelings of love in a way I know resonates with them. My partner does sometimes stimulate me sexually but I’m generally not interested.

I have also never had an orgasm, despite multiple partners trying things with me in the past, and despite an open approach to masturbation and trying to figure out what I like. I’m not on any medication and have no mental or physical health problems.

For a long time I’ve tried to figure out if there is a psychological reason for both my inability to orgasm and asexuality, as both have no real studied aetiology that I can find in medicine or psychiatry. The only thing I can possibly think of is that I have never viewed myself as sexy. There are a number of aspects to this but basically it means I don’t fantasise about sex in my own body, if people want to have sex with me I assume this is to do with other aspects of my person than my physical body, I have some shame about the idea that someone might find me sexually attractive, and I view my body as a largely functional thing (and feel embarrassed when I or other people notice sexually appealing features to my body).

I feel like this might be a dysfunctional way of thinking but am also worried that my partner doesn’t find me sexy. They don’t tend to spend a lot of time touching or kissing my body when we’re naked together (neither have previous sexual partners), they don’t express desire for my body, and they don’t seem to do things that I do when appreciating my partner’s body like watching them get dressed or explicitly talking about parts of my body they like (except my genitals). Despite this I am choosing to believe my partner does find me sexy and all other thoughts are my own negativity reflecting back at me, but how do I ask for this? I feel like if I ask outright if they find me sexy this is way too much of a loaded question for them to say no to, but I’m at a loss as to how to hint that I want this.

Don’t hint. Hinting is the least effective relationship strategy out there, and the most likely to end in frustration and disappointment and weird fights where at least one of you has no idea what you’re fighting about. Hinting is setting yourself up to fail.

We’ve all been raised by romantic comedies and deodorant commercials to believe that the person who loves you will just know what you want them to do or say without having to be told, that they’ll be able to correctly interpret your every gesture and expression, that they’ll understand the nuances of meaning in each seemingly innocuous sentence. The truth, however, is that love is not telepathy. Expecting your sweetheart to be a mind reader will only leave you hurting and confused.

Try to let go of the idea that asking for what you want and need is manipulative or un-sexy or “too much of a loaded question.” Your partner loves you and wants to make you happy, so the kindest thing you can do for them is let them know how to do so. My guess is they haven’t been touching you, initiating sex, or expressing desire for you because they’re worried it will make you feel uncomfortable or pressured. If you want their sexual attention and appreciation, you need to let them know it’s not unwelcome. Say something like, “While I’m not interested in being touched sexually most of the time, it would mean a lot to me to know that you’re attracted to me and think I’m sexy. Hearing you express appreciation for my body would make me feel happy and reassured, not pressured.” Hopefully, this will prompt a frank conversation between the two of you about your sex life and how you can make sure it’s meeting both of your needs.

But keep in mind that it isn’t up to your partner to repair your self-esteem or get rid of the shame you have around sex. While it’s absolutely fine and healthy to be asexual, it sounds like you’re not entirely happy with your sex life and are worried that your shame is holding you back from the fulfillment you could be experiencing. If this is the case, it’s unlikely to be fixed by compliments from your partner, no matter how heartfelt. You might want to consider looking for a therapist (one with a healthy attitude toward sex and queerness, who won’t try to “cure” your asexuality) to help you sort through your complicated feelings about yourself and your body, so that you can go forth unhindered to enjoy as much or as little sex as your heart desires.

Previously: The “Queerosphere,” Letting Terrible Dog Owners Lie, And Smelly Business

Lindsay King-Miller is also on Twitter, and you can peruse the AAQC archive here. Do you have a question for her?