Carolyn is away. The following is a past column.
Q: You said recently that "good is someone whoís 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? Iím not good at playing hard-to-get or being girly ó I grew up with the company and hand-me-downs of two brothers. But boysí lack of romantic interest in me breaks my heart. How do you feel about playing games, about playing the coquette? I know thereís a middle road here, I just need help finding it.
A: Itís not the coquettishness; itís the playing I deplore. Playing undermines the player ó that would be you ó as well as the person you play with.
Pretend to be girly when youíre not, and youíll either fail and end up looking like a tomboy in drag, or, worse, youíll succeed and find some guy who digs that youíre coy. Then what? He finds out who you really are? Or you fake it?
Plus, by assuming an altered identity, youíre declaring that you donít believe your personality is attractive as is. I donít know anyone confident enough to undermine herself that way and still come out feeling good.
So. That middle road. Whatever you do, donít 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. Itís true, I swear.
If you feel youíre 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 youíre interested, and then give them room to respond. Some will, most wonít, some hurt, most donít.