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Dating Advice from . . . Medieval Historians

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Dating advice...

 

Robert, 29

What's the best way to impress a medievalist?
We tend to be under-appreciated by society, so taking even a slight interest is going to be impressive. A compliment goes a long way. For example, "Nice wax tablet. Is that expensive?"

The girl I'm dating wants me to read her thesis, but I'm no academic. What should I say so she doesn't think I'm dumb?
Just ask her a lot of questions about it. She won't think it's dumb, it'll flatter her. However, this approach relies on your being patient enough to sit through her lengthy explanation of it.

I met a girl who says she's single, but her Facebook profile says she's in a relationship. Should I trust she just hasn't updated it in a long time, or should I say something?
With this sort of red flag, keep your internal affection for her distant, but don't show any outward distrust. Since time will invariably reveal whether she's being honest, patience is the better virtue here. Lies are almost impossible keep up in the long run; truth is infinitely and easily sustainable.

I just started dating my best guy friend. Since we already know so much about each other, what's the best way to add intrigue to our relationship?
Find an area of common interest, like stamina drills for longsword style from the teachings of Fiore dei Liberi. And really push each other in the drills.

What's a good quote from medieval literature to use in flirtation?
"And now for something completely different!" — Monty Python

Mike, 34

I like to watch the History Channel, but the guy I'm dating just wants to watch things like Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I can't help but judge him for this. Does this make me a snob? How can I overcome this?
In regards to your question, "Am I a snob?" I'm going to respond with a resounding "yes." You need to bridge the gap — spend time watching both sets of your programs together and addressing both the positive and negative qualities in them. You can rip apart My Super Sweet Sixteen, but also contextualize the program as a response to the demands of hyper-consumptive, twenty-first century industrialized American society.

The girl I recently started dating assumes we're going to spend all our evenings together, but I need space to hang out with my friends without her. Is this reasonable?
Many a medieval feudal relationship collapsed when a vassal didn't fulfill his requirement to counsel and aid his lord. And you certainly don't want to end up known as a contumacious vassal among your friends. Taking a couple of nights out of the week for that friend time will make time with your girlfriend that much sweeter.

The girl I'm dating wants me to read her thesis, but I'm no academic. What should I say so she doesn't think I'm dumb?
You're not dumb at all, as evidenced in your choice of an academic for a partner. You might be a bit of a masochist, though. And, actually, you've a great ability that we academics sometimes lack: you can read our works with an eye for context and clarity of message. Tell her gently and supportively where things are unclear.

For a couple of months, I was hooking up with a guy. Then he vanished. It was a casual situation, so I didn't get too upset, but now he's calling me again. Should I go back?
If it was casual to begin with and you were fine with that, then his coming back into the picture might not be that big a deal. But your asking the question in the first place suggests there's something in the back of your mind. If you decide you want to see him again, you should do so on your own terms. You've no obligation to a rake who sneaks silently away.

I hate my boyfriend's apartment and his roommates, but I'm not ready for us to move in together. Is there a way I can suggest he look for a new place without being overbearing?
You know that adage about a man's home being his castle? You're not his wife, and you're not at the serious stage of moving in together. Once you get to that point, I think you can (and absolutely should) weigh in on living conditions. But right now, he's got to stay in the place that reeks of dirty feet and manly bits. If you come in there and tell him to clean it, you'll drive him away fast.

What's the best way to impress a medievalist?
Bust out some mad Latin skills.

Amy, 20

I have a blog, and I just started dating someone new. I want to write about our budding relationship objectively, without having to clear every post with him first. Is this kosher?
If you're blogging anonymously, no worries. If Belle de Jour can make money, a book and a TV series out of her sex life, so can you. Just make sure your bedroom exploits are weird enough to keep the readership coming.

What's the best way to impress a medievalist?
Maintain, either falsely or genuinely, an avid interest in dead languages, subjunctive clauses, obscure heretics and eleventh-century bishops. No medievalist can resist the illusion that their work is interesting.

The girl I'm dating wants me to read her thesis, but I'm no academic. What should I say so she doesn't think I'm dumb?
Tell her that her work enforces the heteronormative paradigm, and that she needs to use more inclusive language.

I like to watch the History Channel, but the guy I'm dating just wants to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I can't help but judge him for this. Does this make me a snob? How can I overcome this?
The problem is not that you're a snob, it's that you aren't snobby enough. Enroll in a Latin course. The only joy to be gained from watching historical documentaries is in picking out the inaccuracies.

What's a good quote from medieval literature to use in flirtation?
I wound up with a boyfriend by being able to quote Satan's speech from the old English poem Genesis B: "It's horrible here in hell, sometimes it's hot and sometimes it's cold, and sometimes naked men struggle with serpents."

Mark, 21
Mark's Blog

I just started dating someone seriously, but I've always had a more-than-friends relationship with one of my guy friends. How do I tell the more-than-friends guy this without hurting his feelings?
Tell him the longevity of your friendship means more to you than the string of come-and-go boyfriends in your life. You would never threaten that friendship by dating him.

The first time I met my boyfriend, I lied about my career (as in, I told him I have one, when I'm actually unemployed). Now that it's getting serious, should I fess up, or just tell him I quit to pursue new interests?
When something seems funny, that usually makes it seem not so bad. You should exaggerate your duties even more before revealing the truth to him. He'll be shocked and surprised, and if he finds it funny enough he'll forgive you.

I met a girl who says she's single, but her Facebook profile says she's in a relationship. Should I trust she just hasn't updated it in a long time, or should I say something?
Some women go fishing for a new boyfriend while they're still in a relationship with someone, so it's likely she's lining her ducks up for an expected breakup.

I hate my boyfriend's apartment and his roommates, but I'm not ready for us to move in together. Is there a way I can suggest he look for a new place without being overbearing?
No. Definitely overbearing. Next you'll have him wearing pink shirts and Christmas sweaters.

What's the best way to impress a medievalist?
An obsession with Viking metal music. A castle also works well. 

Interviews by Anna Davies.