Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Thinks I’m Too Much Of A Feminist”

It seems that, as an adult, every time I date someone new, he’s a better for me than the previous guy. The current one seemed perfect at first: friendly, health-conscious, outgoing, spontaneous, but also established and responsible. We’re so, so good together. And. It’s. The. Best. Sex. I. Have. Ever. Had. We’ve been officially together for a couple of months now and it all seemed to be going swimmingly until he came over one night and dropped a bombshell: he wasn’t sure he could continue a relationship with me because I am too “political” — I vote and am an ardent feminist who’s also an activist. A gendered analysis informs my most fundamental worldview. Apparently, this is a problem. It’s not that he “opposes feminism, so much as wishes it didn’t have to exist,” however he can’t seem to grasp conceptually that my work as a feminist is towards ending gender inequities that he so easily wishes away. Is this relationship doomed? Or do you think I can be political with my friends and fellow activists and leave the politics aside in order to be with him? — Feminist Girlfriend

I don’t know you and I don’t know your relationship, but I’ve known a lot of people who identify as “political” and as “radical feminists,” and call themselves activists, and while none of these things are bad, it can be a bad match for people who don’t share similar passions. And a passion is exactly what it is. As you say, “a gendered analysis informs your most fundamental worldview,” so it’s obviously something that’s on your mind — if not directly in the forefront, than at the very least in the back of it — all the time. I’m willing to bet it’s something you talk about much of the time, too – again, if not explicitly, then probably implicitly. It informs your worldview, after all. And you know what? That might be pretty annoying for your boyfriend. Maybe a gendered analysis isn’t something he feels like hearing about and discussing all the time. Sure, it’s important to you — understandably so — but your boyfriend has made it clear that it isn’t important to him.

When he says he doesn’t oppose feminism, “so much as wishes it didn’t have to exist,” what he’s really saying is: “I’m tired of hearing you talk about it. I’m bored and annoyed with you turning everything into a gendered analysis. Can’t we just watch TV for the sake of watching TV? Does pop music always have to be a statement of the role of women in society?” And if the answer is “yes” for you, maybe your question shouldn’t be whether you can be political with your friends and fellow activists and leave politics aside when you’re with him, as much as it should be: “Can you be with someone who doesn’t share and support your passions?” And I don’t know, FG. Can you? Do you really want to? It might be quite a lot to give up for the sake of a good orgasm (which, by the way, you can probably find with someone who enjoys discussing gender politics as much as you do).

After years of feeling shy around guys, I started dating pretty regularly during my last two years at college and I had a blast. None of the small handful of guys I dated were what I would call perfect matches, but they were all great guys and we had fun together, and I remain on good terms with all of them. However, at 24, my most successful of these “relationships” lasted all of six weeks, and now I realize that I’m finally ready to be in a committed relationship. The problem is, I’m not sure how to obtain that, because I just haven’t met any guys lately who I feel a connection with and who are looking for the same things as I am. I’ve gone out with friends of friends, but felt nothing more than lukewarm affections. My hopes improved when I signed up for a dating website and met an amazing guy — we had so much in common that we talked for hours the first few times we chatted. But when we finally met in person, I just didn’t feel it, and neither did he. I’m trying to be positive. I’m still browsing dating profiles. I mingle when I’m at parties or out with friends. I try not to be picky about specific preferences and just seek out an intellectual connection. I don’t expect to find the love of my life right now, but I’d like to at least find love! I am trying to be patient, but I’m craving my first real relationship and I’m starting to feel hopeless. Any advice? — Ready For Love

Oh wow, if I had the magic formula for finding love as soon as one’s ready to find it, I’d charge a penny for everyone who wanted it and retire a multi-millionaire next month. The sad truth is, there isn’t a magic formula. It’s about timing and luck and being open. Keep mingling like you have been. Keep online dating and going to parties and meeting friends of friends and smiling at cute strangers at the grocery store or on the subway or at the park and sooner or later, you’ll find someone you love spending time with who feels the same about you. It may take awhile, though — you’ll find that love is so much more than simply finding someone you have an “intellectual connection” with. As you’ve learned there needs to be a “spark,” too, and that’s something that’s much harder to define, let alone find.

While you’re looking for it, fill your life with plenty of things — people, activities, and projects — that bring you joy so that you aren’t just an empty vessel waiting for one person to fill you up. Finding joy in other things besides a romantic relationship, will help keep bitterness at bay, too. While there isn’t any sure way to make love happen faster, acting bitter because it isn’t happening — or because it seems to be happening faster for other people — is a sure way to make yourself less attractive not only to potential suitors, but to other people in your life as well. Keeping a positive attitude will go a long way in making the search for love a more pleasant — and successful — experience. So will happy hour dates.

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