Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “How Much Is Too Much?”

This week, R. Eric Thomas and J. Bryan Lowder discuss a Prudie letter: “How Much Is Too Much?”

R. Eric Thomas: Hi Bryan! I thought that this week’s letter would be a great one to talk about with you specifically, and I’m eager to get your perspective. What do you think? How much leeway should they give Miguel?

J. Bryan Lowder: Yeah, this one hits close to home for sure! My first feeling is that I am so excited for Miguel to be coming into his own as a gay man, and I’m also happy that he has a group of straight friends who seem pretty great, on balance. Your advice that they be as tolerant as possible about his …. effusiveness … in this moment of transition and discovery was both right and kind. Gay adolescence is a real thing!

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Eric: Truly! It can be really surprising to discover all the ways that coming out and coming into one’s own can open up new feelings for a person. Do you think Miguel ought to shift his behavior at all?

Bryan: Ha. I had a bit of a Miguel phase in college (which is not quite so “late” as 30, but I was still behind a lot of my peers), and I recall eventually reaching a point where I recognized I was being kind of a lot and that it was time to, not “tone it down” (never!), but let’s say integrate my gayness into other aspects of my life. So I think Miguel will likely get there on his own. I do not think we want the LW appearing to condescend to him … right? There is a tiny whiff of that in this letter, imo.

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Eric: Yeah, I think there’s a thin line. It can be hard to feel like you’re at a different developmental level with your friend group. In my own group chats I feel like I’m sometimes the wizened elder and sometimes the excitable kid making a new discovery. So my thoughts are always about related to being empathetic and being excited about other people’s excitement. No one wants to look at every Grindr profile that comes across the screen, but there’s a way of looking at it as romantic and fun and harmless.

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Bryan: Absolutely—I love that idea, “being excited about other people’s excitement.” And of course, while we can’t know Miguel’s interiority, I have to imagine that he’s tried to show excitement about LW and other friends’ relationships and crushes over the years, even when doing so might well have been painful, or at least uncomfortable. So it doesn’t feel like asking too much for LW to return that now for a season.

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Is that something you thought about when answering this one, how hetero-ness is sort of always “in our faces,” as they say?

Eric: It is! And I was trying to figure out the best way to thread that through without making assumptions. But I am certain that there are some ways that the lives of some of the hetero members of the friend group feel a bit in your face, perhaps. It’s all about meeting people where they are.

Do you ever think about what parts of your life now may feel “a lot” to your friends?

Bryan: Hahaha well I am in a long-term thruple, which can feel like “a lot” to some folks. Even if the reality is pretty boring (if more crowded). But all I ask, and all I think Miguel would probably ask, is that people be kind about it, even if it’s new or “a lot” to them.

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I wondered, if you were addressing Miguel here and not the LW, what would you say to him about this phase?

Eric: Oh, I have nothing but love and enthusiasm about this phase for Miguel. I’d pull out my Ancient Queen horn-rimmed spectacles and my Caftan of Life Experience and tell him to have fun and be confident and also know that when it stops being as exciting or as seemingly full of promise to not be discouraged. The flutter of infatuation gives way to so many deeper and more fun ways of living. He may not believe it now, but at a certain point he’ll be glad to never answer another Grindr message again.

Bryan: Come on, Caftan! Yes, dearest Miguel, wishing you a delightful flurry of fun on your way to getting whatever you want out of our great gay world.

Eric: Miguel, write us and tell us how it’s going!

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