Friday, May 13, 2011

Preview Issue Materials: Dear Sheila

Hello C.L.A.P.pers!

It has been a while, but things are back in action! I've been chatting with a great group of women about contributing to our summer issue (if you are interested, or know someone who would like to get involved, please email us at !), due out June 21st.

In the meantime, I will be posting a few more articles from our preview issue, including a couple that will be reoccurring features on both the blog and in our print zine. One such feature is our "Dear Sheila" column, in which our resident advice columnist (and phD psychology student Sheila Frankfurt) provides readers answers to their deepest, darkest problems. If you have a question you would like Sheila to explore, please share it with us! Your identity will be confidential, of course, and all you have to do is send your question to, with "Dear Sheila" in the subject.

And now, on to Dear Sheila!

Dear Sheila,

I am addicted to True Blood! My fiance isn't and I think it is negatively effecting our relationship. Help!

-Stuck at Merlotte's

Dear Stuck at Merlotte’s,

Oh my god, first I want to say: "I'm sorry." I really feel for you. Being caught between the love of a good man who's missed the boat, and a burning yearning desire to live in an alternate reality that not even Harry Turtledove could have cooked up is, you know, like a roc and a hard place. I've been there before, and it ain't easy. But don't abandon all hope, yet. This triangular relationship (between you, your fiancée, and True Blood) is turgid with possibilities.

Maybe it would help to take a Socratic approach, and ask yourself a few questions about the situation on the ground. . . 1)Is you boyfriend a smaller-statured Brunet with a tendency to possessively drawl your name and glare at the competition. If so, are you yourself on "Team Eric"? Because, just maybe, he's feeling threatened by your devotion to his on-air nemesis. Of course, maybe your boyfriend is a barrel-chested Aryan powerhouse with a tendency to take what he wants, no questions asked. Have you been sharing your dream of opening up a 3.2 dive bar on the crossroads of an abandoned highway? I'm sure you're picking up on my allusions. Sometimes, I think, we have a tendency to fantasize people we can't (and maybe don't want) to have, and living dangerous lives that are out of reach. But, even in the most intimate of relationships, there are some personal desires that aren't shared--perhaps that separation is threatening to your partner. It’s terrifying to realize you can be shut out of a part of your lover's life, a small corner in the recesses of a shared life can remain untouched and alone. 2) Have you considered that he may secretly be in to V.L.A.R.P. (vampire live action role playing), and is considering sharing his double life with you, but is threatened by your devotion to an opposing vampire-centered alternate reality? Perhaps doing some sexy vampire role playing in the boudoir will open up his doors of perception, and you can share in each other's blood-sucking outlets. Alternately, you may need to sacrifice some of your T.B. time, and see if you can both watch another HBO fantasy show together. I hear "Game of Thrones" is going to be good.

I wonder if the perceived threat of fevered fandom to an intimate relationship depends on one’s gender. Is women’s devotion to a silly fantasy show more threatening to the stability of a relationship than men’s? I’m reminded that, historically, women engaged in the solitary, and absorbing, act of reading was seen as a threat (to marital relationships? to domestic stability? It’s not clear).

P.S. The above fix to this sticky situation explicitly discusses the impact of interest-incongruence in only heterosexual couples, in reaction to the relationship described by the writer. However, I think the same situation could play out in queer relationships, because, at the end of the day—feeling distanced and isolated from one’s partner is a malady common to the human condition.

Sheila Frankfurt is a water sign, though she identifies with the wind.

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