Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Auntie Seraphic & Potentially Clueless

Today a letter from a man.

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

Many thanks for your wonderful blog! Such a wealth of wisdom! To this end, I could use some advice.

In the not too distant future, I will be revealing my interest to a young lady, and I’m certain I could use some pointers on my approach. Over the last 2.5 months, we’ve had an infrequent but friendly correspondence via e-mail; I have been complimentary of her online work (a personal blog), and she has been assisting me with a writing project.

We have never met, however, given that we live some considerable distance apart. Nevertheless, she is very forthcoming on her blog, and I have become quite taken with her--like head over heels. This is something I very much wish to express.

I do not believe in being circumspect, and whatever I say will be clear and forthright. Yet with that said I do not want to be overbearing. This is something that is difficult for me. On the one hand, I am a very passionate person, and so I feel it would be disingenuous to exercise too much restraint; but on the other hand, I want to show due consideration to her sensibilities. What to do?

Would you do me the kindness of reading what I intend to send to her? Having a woman’s perspective on this would make me much less apprehensive as to whether I’m shooting myself in the foot. She is also a very romantic person. I am 3- and she is 2-. Let me know if you would like to help, and I'll send the letter along.

Kind Regards,

Potentially Clueless

Dear Potentially Clueless,

Before you commit yourself on paper/electronica, you must meet this young lady. I note that she is 2- years old, and that you are 3-. A ten year age gap, especially when the man is the elder, is negligible for those of us over 30, but not so much for a girl of 2-. I wish she were 25 and you were 35.

Frankly, the most romantic and sensible thing you can do is write to the young lady saying that you are going to be in her town and you would like to take her out to dinner. And I definitely caution you to use some restraint in your tone: do not forget that you do not actually know each other yet. An infrequent correspondence does not add up to intimacy, and if the young lady is a good writer, she is not putting her whole self on her blog, but just her blog "persona." This is not to say she is disingenuous; it is just that a writer has to choose one voice from the several that make up her character.

Your situation is very familiar to me as my now-husband was a great fan of my blog and invited me to stay with him when I announced my intention to visit Scotland. We read each other's blogs and left comments, and had an infrequent email correspondence. But both of us deliberately suppressed any hopes of romance until we had actually met. Each had seen unflattering photos of the other, and so we were pleasantly surprised, not disappointed, when we saw the reality.

I am, of course, deeply curious as to what you want to write, but honesty compels me to tell you that there is no point in writing a mash note to a woman (a very young woman) you don't really know. I can only counsel you to invite her out for dinner like an honest suitor. I don't know what a "considerable distance" means to you, but I am eternally grateful that I travelled over 3,500 miles to meet my now-husband.

Grace and peace,


P.S. to Readers: Potentially Clueless wrote back to thank me for saving him from rashness. His projected letter had included a poem. Had I known about the poem, my tone would have been even more firm. I think it was Jane Austen who observed that there were few budding romances so hardy that they could survive a poem.

P.S.2: Don't forget that email is only slightly more private than a billboard in Times Square. Before you send any email, imagine someone reading it at your funeral.


Julie said...

An unambiguous dinner date speaks more than a thousand emails ever, ever could in terms of getting things started, anyway.

theobromophile said...

A thought: women in their early 20s can be rather innocent and sweet; a lot of them change (rather dramatically) in their late twenties. The naivete can be attractive to men (bad men, certainly, but also good men), and those men are often thrown a bit when women mature.

I don't mean to male-bash, but I would like to point out that the earnest letter-writer may have (very real and valid) sentiments that won't stand the test of time, not because he is not mature, but because the object of his desire will change a lot over the next several years.

Claire Christina said...

PC, I would caution you to be aware of the creepy factor. I am in my early twenties, and if a man drove or flew a "considerable distance" solely to take me out to dinner, particularly if it were under the guise of simply being in town, I would be skeptical at best, and most likely extremely uncomfortable.

While meeting her is certainly a good idea eventually, I advise you not to underestimate the value of phone conversations in the meantime. I find it perfectly reasonable (and, in fact, laudable) for you to request to get to know her better by proposing to speak with her once a week. In my short lifetime, many strong friendships (and even potential romantic relationships), have begun, deepened, and even completely fizzled (a very good thing, in the long run!) through the gift of phone conversations.

Your friendship with her (and whatever it might develop into) are in my prayers.