On Goths Dating Non-Goths; Or Dating Outside One’s Subcultural Boundries and Why It’s Okay.

The Lady of the Manners must say, Snarklings, that she has been delighted with the letters she’s lately been receiving from all of you. Oodles of letters about all sorts of things; some of you even have been asking for help with clothing and cosmetics, two subjects the Lady of the Manners is always happy to natter on about.

But! The Lady of the Manners is not going to indulge in Holding Forth about fashion things this month. No, this month the Lady of the Manners is going to talk about a dilemma that is a concern for many Goths: can a Goth find happiness in giving their heart to someone who is not one of the spooky and black-clad throng?

Those of you with long memories may recall that the Lady of the Manners has talked about this subject before. But it seems that there are many of you out there who aren’t sure if you can or should date outside the subculture; the letter from Madeline that is quoted below is one of several the Lady of the Manners has received recently.

I once again have the pleasure and misfortune of seeking your guidence once more, you might so happen as to remember my letter I corresponded to you in January of 2006 that you were oh-so-kind as to post upon your lesson. However, this letter was not intended to be a stroll upon the twisted memory lane as I have a sincere problem I’ve been trying to tackle for quite some time;

I am in a semi-serious relationship with a boy who’ve I’ve known for quite some time. At first we were “just friends”, but then when he transferred to a different school we communicated through virtual corrispondance. When we met once more roughly a year hence from our past physical meeting I find it safe to say he found me in a… darker constitution. However, the relatioship blossomed and we have been dating for almost a year and a half.

Here’s the tricky part; he is a mundane, dearest mistress. In fact he is one the brink of redneckdom. We share a joint appreiciation for metal music and video games galore, but is it enough? When I once approached him on this subject he stated that “If you don’t judge me, I won’t judge you,” and I took him to mean it, and yet I still spy him giving the occational eye roll when I find myself gushing over gloriously ghastly decor, or oogling over Gothic inuendos. Oh plese, beloved Mistress, what’s a snarkling to do?

What’s a Snarkling to do? Sit down with the boy and say “I can’t tell if you’re rolling your eyes in fond amusement at my spooky little quirks, or if you’re rolling your eyes because you think my spooky little quirks are dumb”. Yes, the Lady of the Manners is suggesting you ask a direct question about this sort of thing. Very strongly suggesting, as a matter of fact. There is nothing to be gained by watching his every reaction to things you hold dear and trying to guess what is going on in his head. That sort of behavior will accomplish nothing but driving yourself crazy.

There is no rule that Goths must date other Goths; the Elder Goth Cabal (which doesn’t exist) has not issued any such statement, and never will. Now, the Lady of the Manners can see why people might think that Goths shouldn’t date (or marry) outside of The Scene; after all, everyone wants to spend time with people like themselves, people who share their interests. But someone liking the exact same things as you is no guarantee of romantic happiness. The Lady of the Manners really does believe that relationships are stronger when each person has interests of their own, that they don’t share with their partner. Not only because the Lady of the Manners feels it’s very important to have parts of one’s life that are separate from Being A Couple, but also because having different interests gives one that much more to talk about.

Another reason to date someone who is Not A Goth is because there are those in our spooky little subculture who … how can the Lady of the Manners phrase this? Who believe the hype, who believe that you must be Hardcore Oooky-Spooky Goth all the time. There is a difference between someone who believes that every day is Halloween and someone who thinks that washing off the eyeliner and watching cartoons while wearing pjs means you’re not a Real Goth. The Lady of the Manners feels that anyone who needs to constantly proclaim their Gothness with a Capital “G” all the time would not make a good romantic partner anyway, and probably should be pitied, not dated.

However, being involved with someone Not Like You is not without its challenges, this is true. There’s the temptation to try and give your partner a make-over; to turn them into a Goth. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, unless they really don’t want to go out to the Goth club, they don’t feel comfortable wearing all black and eye makeup, they don’t want to watch Tim Burton movies over and over, or they just don’t feel that Goth is for them. And before you stomp your little stompy boots and wail “But if they love me they’d change!”, stop and think about how you might feel if the situation were reversed. If they tried to make you over, change your appearance, drag you along to things you weren’t interested in, all because they think that if you really loved them, you’d change for them. That doesn’t sound very enticing, does it?

Which brings the Lady of the Manners right back to occasionally asking your romantic partner if they’re rolling their eyes at you in a loving, teasing manner, or if they are waiting for you to “grow out of this phase”. The first is perfectly fine, and to be expected. (The Lady of the Manners herself has been known to ask her wonderful husband that question, usually after he sighs heavily upon finding her in the “Horror” section of the used bookstore with her arms filled with vampire novels.) The second reaction is one that should cause concern. As the Lady of the Manners pointed out just above, changing your partner to better suit you is not a particularly kind thing to do; however, waiting for your partner to grow out of a “phase” (be it redneck, Goth, or any other subculture) goes a bit beyond unkind and hurtles straight down the path of resentment and heartbreak.

The Lady of the Manners is well-aware that the ”communication is important!” message is something that is covered in every advice column that ever existed, but does feel it needs to be repeated in this context, too. If you don’t feel you can ask the object of your affection these sorts of questions, what are you doing handing your heart over to them?

And with that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to window-shop for expensive and decadent chocolates, and continue reading letters from all of you. As always, feel free to send the Lady of the Manners mail using the handy-dandy “Correspondance” link, or to go browse and shop for Gothic Charm School merchandise via the “Mercantile” link. Next month may bring a lesson of fashion advice, or something completely different. Who knows what letter may catch the Lady of the Manners’ fancy?

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