Dear Gabby,

I’m a guy in my 20s. Why should I call someone just to tell them I’m not going to call them anymore? A friend of mine says the cut-off is three dates. Before that, you’re allowed to disappear. After that, you have to “talk” about it. What do you think?

Signed,
Stumped

Dear Stump,

Boy, are you barking up the wrong tree! If you are looking for a consultant who will agree with your misbegotten, medieval, mistaken dating techniques, my friend, you will have to go back to the 80s and consult some of the jerks I dated! Perhaps you haven’t been ghosted by someone you kinda like, have a crush on or are madly in lust with. I hope it never happens to you, because it shouldn’t happen to anyone. If you are old enough to ask someone out or spend time with in any kind of romantic way, be it unrequited or torrid fireworks, then you are old enough to do the hard work of communicating clearly and honestly, which means putting your big boy pants on. Sorry! Trust me, no one likes to have these kinds of conversations. But have you must. Forget the old standbys that should have gone the way of The Captain and Tennille LPs, like “I’m just not in a good place right now,” “You’re too good for me,” or “I’m being transferred to Kamchatka.” Just stick to the truth and represent your feelings with integrity. Most people will appreciate your honesty even if they are hurt by the message. We all have to deal with disappointments in love. Don’t add to it by being one of those kind of guys. You are better than that, Stumped. Besides, you really don’t want to give them a reason to firebomb your house.


Dear Gabby,

Is it ok that I love my dog and want to cuddle with her more than my spouse?

Signed,
Guilty in DC

Dear Guilty,

Of course it is! Dogs have traits humans can only aspire to. They never talk back, never grow up, they’re loyal to the core, never in a bad mood, know when you need your face licked and they’re always glad to see you. Show me a spouse like that and I’ll show you a stampede.


Dear Gabby,

I’m non-binary and use they/them pronouns. My family and friends either struggle or refuse to make the effort to use my correct pronoun. I’m so fed up and bored with being misgendered. What can I do?

Signed,
How to they/them

Dear How,

I’m sorry you are having to work so hard just to be properly recognized as a human being. I know it is very confusing for some people, especially people over a certain age, to wrap their heads and tongues around they/them pronouns. But I am here to tell you that it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. As an old dog myself, I know! I had to retrain my brain and mouth to use they/them pronouns and honestly, it didn’t come quickly. Years ago, a young co-worker of mine started using they/them pronouns, and I was constantly slipping up and then apologizing to them. They were always very gracious about it. But then another co-worker pulled me aside and said, “You have to do better. You are offending them every time you use the wrong pronoun.” I was stopped in my tracks. And I felt terrible. From that moment on, I concentrated a lot harder and eventually, it became second nature. Do I still screw up once in a while? Of course….but when you’re a dog as old as me, every once in a while you have an accident. 

There is a difference, however, between people who don’t use the proper pronouns because it is new to them and they fumble over their words and people who refuse to use correct pronouns. You mention both. To people who struggle, I would say to them, “I know this is difficult for you, but it is very important to me and to everyone who uses they/them pronouns.” But when you are talking about people who refuse to use correct pronouns, something else is going on. A denial of someone else’s right to be recognized is an aggressive act of bigotry. But it is also an opportunity to open someone else’s mind to equity. One resource that may help with that is the book “How to They/Them, a Visual Guide to Nonbinary Pronouns and the World Of Gender Fluidity,” by Stuart Getty and Brooke Thyng. In all likelihood, however, the onus will fall on you to sit this person down, if they are important in your life, and explain how fundamental this is to your identity. Hopefully, you will shine a little light into a dark space. If this person still refuses, then you have all the information you need to decide whether you want this person in your life or not. You gotta do you.   


No question is too serious, too silly or too snarly for Gabby – she’s waiting to hear from you. Send her a note at news@evanstonroundtable.com with “Dear Gabby” in the subject line.