Carolyn is away. The following is a past column.
Q: You said recently that "good is someone who’s eager to make time for you." Here, then, is my question: As a confident, extroverted college freshman with a lot going for me, should I pursue boys I want, or make them come to me? I’m not good at playing hard-to-get or being girly — I grew up with the company and hand-me-downs of two brothers. But boys’ lack of romantic interest in me breaks my heart. How do you feel about playing games, about playing the coquette? I know there’s a middle road here, I just need help finding it.
A: It’s not the coquettishness; it’s the playing I deplore. Playing undermines the player — that would be you — as well as the person you play with.
Pretend to be girly when you’re not, and you’ll either fail and end up looking like a tomboy in drag, or, worse, you’ll succeed and find some guy who digs that you’re coy. Then what? He finds out who you really are? Or you fake it?
Plus, by assuming an altered identity, you’re declaring that you don’t believe your personality is attractive as is. I don’t know anyone confident enough to undermine herself that way and still come out feeling good.
So. That middle road. Whatever you do, don’t travel it just to attract guys. Do it to become someone you like and feel good about, and from there the right kind of attention from the right kind of people will follow. It’s true, I swear.
If you feel you’re more feminine than your upbringing allowed, explore that. By looking around and noticing there are as many interpretations of femininity as there are women. Be patient, be judicious, be yourself, and find yours.
And in the meantime, treat boys as you would treat anyone: Approach them when you’re interested, and then give them room to respond. Some will, most won’t, some hurt, most don’t.