Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Woman, by any other name, needs to take break from dating
D.C.: I blew it. I finally got together with a boy I've liked for many months, my recognition of this fact being a trigger to breaking up with my boyfriend of a year and a half. I was positively gleeful about the new boy, and have had nonstop butterflies for the two weeks he has been away since then. However. Last weekend I was at a party at this new boy's house, thrown by some of his roommates. And fueled by too much to drink and a sort of reckless post-relationship abandon, I ever so unwisely made out with one of the roommates. Woke up horrified with what I had done. Is the thing with new boy, who I still really, really like, now hopeless? What is the best route to damage control?
Carolyn: Classic. Depending on how involved you and the new boy were, skulking off into the sunset might be a viable option. But if you have any kind of established relationship, I don't think anything but the full ugly truth, without modesty shadings, will be credible at this point: that, drunken idiocy notwithstanding, you really do like him, but obviously are in no state of life to be seeing anyone at the moment.
Anonymous: The unusually articulate nature of this question, coupled with calling men "boys," is an interesting combination. The writer may want to wait until she's a woman wanting to date men before attempting to sort out who's who while she's under the influence.
Carolyn: It's always a close call to read into a single word choice. But there's another, similarly interesting juxtaposition: "sorting out" and "under the influence." Would be interesting to track future vocabulary changes against the waning of the urge to get smashed.
overthinking this?: I'm a woman in my 30s. I would never have written "I'm a girl in my 30s." In the workplace, I work with men and women. But on Friday night, I'm going out for dinner with the girls. And if I meet a man, I'd tell my friends, "I met a boy" (meaning a man my age), or, "I met a guy." I don't think I'd say, "I met a man." But I'd ask my friends, "What are you looking for in a man?" not, "What are you looking for in a boy?" which just sounds icky.
Carolyn: No, I think you're illustrating persuasively why context is so important in language. (And why sometimes it's appropriate, and sometimes silly, to extract an entire character study from one word.)
D.C.: Hello, "disaster girl" here. I must say that mistakes like the one I committed last weekend are precisely the ones I need to make in the process of becoming that "woman" who is ready for a relationship with a "man." Waiting would perhaps be less painful, but ultimately useless.
Carolyn: I'm not so sure about that. I do agree with the premise that it's hard to learn from mistakes if you don't make any; however, that's not the same thing as license to go make mistakes.
Certainly you can back off the idea of having a boyfriend right now, without setting your education back. It's dropping out of dating, not high school.