Wipe away those break up tears because we’re going to show you that love is not a lie! This week we have Autostraddle editor and all around icon Heather Hogan talking about her 11 year(!!) relationship with her wife and all things long term relationships.
But first! We celebrate being reunited — after an eventful summer! — and play a game of guess the show from the fanfic.
+ If you’re an A+ member, you can read this massive crossover fanfic that the Autostraddle TV Team collectively wrote, including the Buffy/Faith/Nia Nal threesome I concocted.
+ One of the first pieces I wrote for Autostraddle was this essay about season one of Fleabag.
+ Another reason to be an A+ member: this exclusive look at Heather and Stacy’s wedding!
+ I love communication but as Vanessa detailed here there is such a thing as too much processing.
+ If you want a further look into my attitude that just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful, check out my favorite essay I’ve ever written.
Heather: We stayed out the whole night, which is just so out of character for both of us. And I think it was just, it’s really indicative of our relationship, I think, where it was just like, this is awesome. Let’s just do the next thing. This is so fun. Let’s just do the next thing. And I think that’s just been exactly how our relationship’s been for like 11 years. Every step has just been like, “This part’s great. What’s the next thing we could do?” So, yeah.
Theme song plays
Drew: Hi, I’m Drew.
Christina: And I’m Christina.
Drew: And welcome to, Wait, Is This a Date?
Christina: Wait, Is This a Date? is an Autostraddle podcast dedicated to the burning question: wait, is this a date? Where Drew and I discover all sorts of things about dating. What is dating, what isn’t dating. And really just have a grand adventure, I’d say.
Drew: I would also say that it has been a grand adventure so far and will continue to be. My name is Drew Gregory. I’m a writer for Autostraddle and a filmmaker and a trans lesbian. And I want to have something new to add to the mix. I never can think of anything new. I think those are my identities.
Christina: Sometimes identity doesn’t change, despite what TikTok will tell you.
Drew: I’m Jewish.
Christina: Yeah. I mean like—
Drew: Sort of. I mean, yeah. No, I’m not religious, but that is also part of my identity. You can tell from my hair.
Christina: That hasn’t changed though, I suppose.
Drew: That I’m Jewish?
Christina: Yeah. You’ve been Jewish.
Drew: No, I’ve been Jewish. Yeah, that didn’t happen between the two episodes. Well, who are you, Christina?
Christina: I’m Christina. I’m also a writer at Autostraddle. A loud homosexual on the internet. I’m really looking forward to the advent of Princess Diana season, AKA bike shorts and sweatshirts. That’s where I’m trying to be. I’m in Philadelphia, so it is 96 degrees today. So we’re slowly getting there. It’s just like I want it right now. It’s my ideal time. I want to be a main character in the fall, and it’s not happening yet.
Drew: Yeah. Well, what’s exciting that you’re revealing just now is, so for our listeners, it’s been a week since our last episode, which is what it always is. But for us, we actually recorded the first six episodes as we were finding our voice and developing this new podcast. We recorded that in advance, but now we’re pretty current. So this is like we’ve had a whole summer. So we haven’t recorded in months and we’ve been up to all sorts of things
Christina: Uncharted territory. The last time we recorded, we hadn’t met. We’ve met in person.
Drew: That’s true! Yes!
Christina: Drew was in my ding, dang home, just hanging out.
Christina: I would just wake up and be like, “Well, look, that’s Drew over there.”
Drew: So nice.
Christina: It was really delightful.
Drew: You have such a lovely home.
Christina: Thank you. It’s a gay chaos home and we love it very dearly. Yeah. So we’re just on a new journey and it’s really exciting to be going on this venture with our listeners. Do we have anything else we want to pontificate about before we get into our little game?
Drew: I mean, I don’t know. I had a big summer, but I guess things will come up as the episodes come along, but…
Christina: Yeah, I don’t want you to load it all in the front.
Drew: You don’t want me to spoil anything?
Christina: Yeah. Load it all in the front? My God, what a horrible sentence.
Drew: It sounded a little bit sexual, but also I really had more of a thought of like—
Christina: It did!
Drew: I thought more though that you were leaving Home Depot and were like getting into your car, which I know you don’t have, but that was also where my brain is, which also might be sexual.
Christina: I also just love that the thing that’s keeping me from going to Home Depot is a car and not the very person that I am. Like every time I’ve been at a Home Depot, someone has been like, “Ma’am are you lost? Are you safe here?” And I’m like, “No, frankly. So much wood around. I’m not safe.” So I have a game for Drew because we love to play games.
Drew: I’m listening.
Christina: And I decided, both in honor of myself and our guest, that this was going to be a little intro into the world of fanfic for Drew. So what I have done is I’ve taken five shows from Drew’s Favorite Characters in Television list, and I am going to read you some tags from AO3’s fanfiction and you are going to have to guess which of the shows these tags are referring to. I will start general, they will get more specific to the show as we go along.
Drew: Okay. I just have some questions—
Christina: Of course you do.
Drew: Because I don’t know a lot about the fanfic world. So every show has words that are associated with that show?
Drew: That range in specificity, I would imagine?
Christina: Yes. Yes, they do.
Drew: And so if you wanted to find a show that had like, I don’t know, medieval times you could hit the medieval tag.
Christina: I’ll say that I didn’t find any medieval times tags in any of these shows. Love to see it.
Drew: Well, that’s not my taste, but I was just throwing something out.
Drew: Because I guess in my brain, I was like, oh, well, if you are reading fanfic, you’re looking for shows that have characters you like. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes you’re just looking for a topic and then you can discover shows from the fanfic?
Christina: You could. That would be a strange way to approach fanfic because most people approach it knowing the ship they have in mind. And then they say, I want to read perhaps an alternate universe version of this fanfic. Perhaps I would like some hurt comfort. Perhaps I would like a slow burn. Maybe I just want some straight up smut. There’s a lot of areas in which people go. And then there’s also just additional tags, letting you know the kind of flavor and vibe of the story. And we’re going to go flavor and vibe. Because obviously ships will give it away and an alternate universe is not particularly helpful per the show, so we’re going to be specific to the show.
Drew: Okay, cool. Let’s jump into it.
Christina: All right.
Drew: Let’s learn together. Yeah.
Christina: All right. Your first one. We’re going to start with fictional politics, praise kink, abandonment issues, very slow burn.
Drew: Praise kink, political… Fictional politics?
Christina: Fictional politics, yes.
Drew: Does that mean like politics that are grounded in the real world, but are fictional or totally fictional politics?
Christina: I haven’t read the fic in question, but I’m assuming it means totally fictional politics.
Christina: We can keep going.
Drew: Yeah, keep going.
Christina: Past abuse, hurt comfort, I need soft things to live and so do you. Hilarious tag. Just had to read that one.
Drew: Okay, wait. Maybe I should take a second and think about what my favorite shows are. Okay. Because I’m trying to think of the shows that have politics in them. Oh wait, is it The L Word?
Christina: This one is not The L Word. No.
Drew: Because that does have fake politics.
Christina: It does.
Drew: Because Bette runs for mayor. I don’t know if you remember that.
Christina: Oh, I do.
Drew: Okay, let’s see. What other… Vida has politics.
Christina: Vida has politics.
Drew: Is it Vida?
Christina: Unfortunately, Vida does not have any fanfics.
Drew: Oh, what?
Christina: I know. So people, get to it.
Drew: People, get on that. I would read that fanfic.
Christina: People, get to it.
Drew: Okay. Let’s see. What other…
Christina: I can keep going.
Drew: Keep going. Yeah.
Christina: Cat and mouse. Possessive behavior.
Drew: Oh, oh, Killing Eve.
Christina: There you go.
Drew: Cat and mouse got me. Oh, praise kink. Yeah. Okay, it’s all clicking. It’s all clicking.
Christina: It all clicks. It all clicks. It was also a challenge because I had to find ones that were specific enough to the show, but also like, it might surprise you to know there’s a lot of praise kink things out there.
Christina: Just like a ton. Just like a ton.
Drew: I believe that. I love our community.
Christina: I know. One of these is not on your list of favorite TV shows and/or favorite TV characters because some of your favorite TV shows did not have fics, which was sad.
Christina: But this is a show we have talked about a ton and I think you’ll get it.
Christina: At some point. This is going to be so easy for you, I feel.
Drew: Oh, God. Pressure.
Christina: Male friendship. Emotionally repressed.
Drew: Ted Lasso?
Christina: Yep. Yep.
Drew: Like, what shows do I watch with men? Okay, let’s try the gay one. Nope. Let’s try the straight one.
Christina: Yeah, the other one was going to be “team bonding” and I was like, that’s an easy one. There’s an easy one. All right. Let’s see. Canon character death, LGBTQ character of color. There’s a tongue twister for you. Families of choice. Mother daughter relationship.
Drew: Sense 8?
Christina: No. In the area, I would say. I would say in that zone.
Christina: Yeah. The next one was going to be canon sex work, so — all right, we have two more.
Drew: Okay. I love it.
Christina: Jealousy. I am scared of this next episode because I don’t trust the writers. A literal tag on this fic. Iconic.
Drew: Okay. I mean, I don’t think Glee is on my list, but that is what I would first think.
Christina: It is not Glee. I don’t think Glee was on any of your lists.
Drew: It’s not.
Christina: But funny point. Ex-lovers to friends back to lovers trope, family feels, friendship. A long awaited reunion.
Drew: Ex-lovers to friends back. Is this The L word?
Christina: It is The L word.
Drew: Okay. I was like, ex-lovers to friends back to ex… Yeah, the ex-lovers.
Christina: The sad thing about The L word fanfic is the staggering amount of Bette Tina fanfic is just like, y’all need to…
Drew: You know, I think we might have an excuse to get into this later. That’s a little tease for our main topic.
Christina: All right. Angst.
Christina: Bittersweet ending.
Drew: Freaks and Geeks?
Christina: Close — no, not close. I don’t need to lie to you.
Drew: I don’t know why. I just took a jab at angst and bittersweet ending. That’s just sort of my thing.
Christina: Yeah. That’s true. That’s very true. Romance (very sad). That’s in parentheses, the very sad.
Drew: And it’s not The Leftovers.
Christina: It’s not The Leftovers. I’m not going to give this-
Drew: Okay. I’m going to be able to get this. So angst.
Christina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Drew: Bittersweet ending.
Christina: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Romance parenthesis sad.
Drew: Romance, very sad.
Christina: Unresolved sexual tension.
Drew: This is all. This is just me. This is like everything. This could just be anything.
Christina: Yeah, welcome to fanfic, babe.
Drew: Ooh. I mean, wow. What a welcome.
Christina: Pining is another one.
Drew: How is this in the same family? Okay, wait, let me think about shows that I love that are gay and have an angst. Pining.
Christina: I will say this show is not gay.
Christina: But it is a show that I know you love.
Christina: Would you like one that’s going to give it away?
Drew: I do think we need to get on with the podcast—
Christina: I do.
Drew: But if it was just you and I like hanging out as friends, I would be like, no, no, no, give me a half hour. But okay, give me the one.
Christina: Blasphemy, religious trauma.
Christina: There it is.
Drew: There it is. Fleabag is a show that now that some of the crazy culture around it has gone away and it’s not like all these annoying people’s personalities, I’m like, incredible show.
Drew: Just a great show.
Drew: What a great, great television program. That was a lot of fun. Thank you.
Drew: And I’d like to just make a public service… No, that’s not what it is. Just like a request to the people that I want some Vida fanfic. I will read it. I don’t know who I want it to be between. Maybe it can be, what’s it called when it’s like two… We did this. We did this in the TV team. We did like a cross… What’s the word for it? What’s it when it’s like multiple shows?
Christina: Yeah. Cross… Cross… That thing. I know what you’re saying. I can’t think of the word. We could bring our guest in. I know they know the word.
Drew: Okay. We’re going to get into our major topic we can bring in our guest so her head doesn’t explode as she’s trying to tell us this word. Guest, do you want to introduce yourself?
Heather: Yes. Hello, this is Heather Hogan. I am an Autostraddle writer and editor. And usually when I listen to this podcast, I play along like it’s a game show when y’all are doing your games. It was very hard for me to be quiet while this was happening.
Christina: I was like, this is going to be really fun, but it’s also going to be so hard for me to do this and Heather just be silent.
Heather: Yeah. My favorite so far has been, “Who Said It: Drew or Sappho?”
Christina: Thank you.
Heather: And I was truly cheering like I was on The Price Is Right. I was like, “Christina, no it’s Drew! It’s Drew! It’s Drew! No, it’s Sappho!” But you did great. You didn’t even need my help at that game.
Christina: Re-listening to that one, I was really like, well, damn I do know my friends slash I guess the text of Sappho.
Heather: You did really well.
Drew: You crushed it. I also went through… To make sure the game worked, I tried it on several people. Some people who do know me better than you do, Christina, and they all could not do it. So I was very impressed by you.
Christina: Sounds like I’m a winner, which is all that matters.
Drew: Heather, tell us what that word is for our fanfiction.
Heather: It’s just crossover.
Christina: It’s a crossover, yeah!
Drew: Crossover! Oh, okay. Okay. I thought there was some fancy word for it. But anyways, if someone wants to write Vida fanfic that’s a crossover, it’s something else that I love. I’d love to see more of it. So our main topic this week is not fanfic. It is long-term relationships. Because, Heather, how long have you been in your current relationship?
Heather: I have been with my wife for 11 years.
Drew: Oh, that’s so long.
Christina: Drew, have you done anything consistently for 11 years? Because I certainly haven’t.
Drew: No, not even gender. I haven’t done anything. What have I done? I’m trying to think if I can think of anything that I’ve done for 11 years. I mean, I’ve—
Christina: Nicotine. I have done some form of nicotine for 11 years. Nailed it.
Drew: Wow. I haven’t even had any addictions that have gone that long.
Christina: Oh, okay. Brag.
Drew: Except there’s certain art things that I’ve loved for 11 years.
Christina: Yeah. I feel like there’s probably movies.
Drew: My relationship with Agnes Varda and Jane Campion, those are over 11 years long.
Christina: That tracks.
Drew: Yeah. But yeah. Wow. So I’d love to start off by just getting more backstory about you and Stacy.
Drew: Can I say her name on the podcast?
Heather: Yes, yes, yes. You can say it.
Drew: Or you want me not?
Heather: No, it’s…
Drew: Okay. Okay. Okay.
Christina: It’d be really funny if we bleeped it though. It’d be really dramatic.
Heather: It would be so dramatic.
Christina: If we had a musical sting every time we said her name. Could be fun.
Drew: So I just want to start by just like, how did you meet? What’s the story there?
Heather: Yeah. So we met on Twitter in 2010, which is, I don’t know. Were you guys on Twitter in 2010? How old were you in 2010? You were?
Christina: I was.
Drew: I was on in 2011, I joined.
Christina: It was the embarrassing time of me being on Twitter. It was like when I didn’t understand who I was talking to or why. I was adding celebrities randomly.
Heather: It was a free-for-all.
Christina: It was bad.
Heather: It was like the first exposure regular people had ever had to celebrities or TV writers in a way where you could engage one on one. It was a mess.
Christina: It was not cute. But we all grew and got a different kind of worse on Twitter. So that’s beautiful.
Heather: It’s a different kind of mess now, yeah. So it was like 2010 and I was writing for a different queer website. I guess it’s a lesbian only website that shall not be named.
Christina: We do not speak it, yes.
Heather: We do not speak it. And I was writing some Skins recaps and… Mm-hmm (affirmative). I know.
Christina: That’s beautiful stuff.
Heather: And so you know how TV fans are on Twitter? And this has never changed. They either love what you write and they think you’re a genius or they’re like, I wish you would die in a fire tornado and your corpse would be eaten by sharks. Anyway, so I was kind of navigating that for the first time. And one day Stacy, out of the blue, tweeted me a video of Paula Dean getting hit in the face with a canned ham.
Christina: High art and comedy. Incredible.
Heather: Classic. We have a very similar sense of humor. To this day, watching Paula Dean get hit in the face with a ham, any racist getting hit in the face with a ham, is a beautiful thing to me. So she tweeted that at me and I was like, who is this clown? And we started tweeting back and forth. And then we started in the Twitter DMs and then we started emailing. And yeah, I guess we sort of declared our intentions because we started sending playlists instead of just emails. You know that sort of elevates it.
Drew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Christina: Yeah, that’s pretty gay.
Heather: And then we met in 2011 when I was in New York for work. I lived in Georgia at the time, where I was born and raised, and she lived in New York City. So yeah.
Christina: Yeah. I was going to ask how far the distance was. I just assumed there was a distance. I was like, well—
Heather: Definitely a distance. And yeah, I was in New York for work, funnily enough, for the US Skins release party.
Christina: Oh right. I forgot that they did that.
Heather: The universally beloved US Skins.
Christina: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Heather: Yeah. And we met up then and that was 2011 and then here we are.
Christina: Here we are at the tail end of 2021.
Drew: Wow. At what point did you think like, oh, this could be something real?
Heather: I think when we met in real life the first time. When I sort of look back on it now, the first night that we spent together was just so surreal and uncharacteristic for both of us. We went to dinner and then we went to this Skin’s premiere party, which was a complete, just total shit show. There had been a blizzard. The party was in a warehouse on the waterfront. And the cops came and busted the whole thing up. And we got chased off by the cops and then we were in the back of this cab and it was snowing. And in my life, when something bad happens, I’m like, oh, well, on to the next adventure. But Stacy does not get over things really quickly. She doesn’t downshift that fast. She needs some time to feel her disappointment and process her disappointment. And I could look back now and see her in the cab, just like, should I just leave this girl here and go home and never see her again? But then we went to The Cubbyhole, the gay bar in New York City.
Heather: Which we’ve never been back to since that night, in over a decade. But we stayed there until it shut down. I’d never been in a bar till it closed before. They rang a bell. I was like, what the hell is that? And then it was like 3:00 AM. And then we went to get a cheeseburger. We stayed out like the whole night, which is just so out of character for both of us. And I think it’s really indicative of our relationship, I think, where it was just like, this is awesome. Let’s just do the next thing. This is so fun. Let’s just do the next thing. And I think that’s just been exactly how our relationship has been for like 11 years. Every step has just been like, this part’s great. What’s the next thing we can do? So yeah.
Christina: All of that is so baffling to me. It’s so beautiful. It’s straight up out of some sort of rom-dramedy on a streaming service. I would love to see it portrayed.
Heather: What streaming service?
Christina: Can’t quite tell yet. I think… If it was like younger adults, I would absolutely say Netflix.
Christina: But this kind of mid, it’s tough to say.
Heather: It’s true.
Christina: We might have to add a fantasy element. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens. How have you guys navigated this whole… So much of your life has changed in 10 years, like Drew and I were just talking, we haven’t done anything the same in 10 years. How do you navigate changing and growing with a person in that way?
Heather: That’s a great question.
Christina: Also, I love that this is just Drew and I interviewing you on what’s it like to be an adult with an adult relationship? We simply do not know.
Heather: I think that’s so much of the thing about successful long-term relationships… People in long-term relationships are so smug when they talk about it, but the truth is that there’s just so much luck involved in it. If it happens, and the timing is right and the luck is there and the luck remains there, it’s not… When I met Stacy, I was not ready to think about being in the kind of relationship that would lead to marriage. And she certainly was not. We were ready to flirt on Twitter and then we were ready to meet. Then we were ready to go for a cheeseburger at 3:00 AM. You know what I mean? Neither of us were ready for what it became. And I don’t think either of us had ever been ready for the next step until we were ready for the next step. I certainly was not looking for that.
Christina: That’s always what they say, right? You can’t be searching. You got to let it come to you in a moment.
Heather: You got to just wait for that video of Paula Dean’s ham face.
Christina: I will say, if I ever see that video again, I will be like, where did it come from? That person is my intended.
Drew: Before Stacy, what was your relationship history and what was hers? Was this the first long-term relationship that you both had? Or had you both done this before on a smaller scale?
Heather: Yeah, I think we had both done it on a smaller scale. Stacy was out in high school in rural Wisconsin. She’s just the coolest, bravest person that I know.
Christina: Go the hell off, Stacy.
Heather: I mean, she’s just… She’s just amazing. And so anyway, she was just out and she was like dating in high school. She was dating people she knew. She was dating on the internet. She went to film school at Northwestern, which is just full of queer people. And she dated plenty of people there and she was dating in New York. And I also dated some really wonderful women and I was in some very complicated situation-ships, because I was in rural Georgia so I was in some complicated friendships with straight women.
Drew: Yeah. Yep.
Heather: But yeah, I think we had both dated. I think neither of us had ever really been with somebody that made us just want to take whatever the next step was that got us to the place where we had never been before.
Drew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Drew: Yeah. Well, because, okay, so Christina, what’s your longest relationship or what is your history with “long term relationships,” whatever that means to you?
Christina: My longest relationship was a smooth nine months. That’s it. It was long, but it also was marked by my girlfriend at the time being like, “Oh, I’m going to move in this fall.” So I was like, oh, okay. So like this is long-term dating with an expiration date. And I suppose there is a possibility where we, different people or differently in our relationship, we would have continued said relationship. But both of us were kind of like, no, doing a long distance thing is not really where we want to be. And before that, I don’t know, like three months, two months? Like longish dating. Kind of just around the point where you’re like, is this the girlfriend situation? Also a lot of those were with cis men, bravely of me. So brave. So every day I was so brave. So yeah, and which is strange… Not strange because I famously hate dating and that’s why we have this podcast because I hate dating and Drew loves doing it. But the thing about me is, in a long term steady scenario, that’s really where CT is going to thrive. CT is going to be here baking, ideally not working and having some sort of businesswoman wife who does stuff outside for me and then I just do the inside stuff. That’s really where I’m going to thrive. I just got to get there. I just got to do the bad part first, which is the dating part.
Heather: I agree with you completely.
Drew: Yeah, you would be an amazing wife.
Christina: Really? Just chef’s kiss. Chef’s kiss of it.
Christina: What about you? You’ve had a long relationship.
Drew: Yeah. So my first long-term relationship was a few months into college. It was my first serious relationship. And I wasn’t the luckiest, coolest in high school. So this was the first person who… I had kissed a few people, but this was really the first person who I had any sort of relationship with. And that also was a similar situation where there was an expiration date because part of her program was studying abroad her entire junior year, and she was a sophomore when I was a freshman. So a lot of our relationship was marked by this knowledge that we would break up at the end of the summer. Then we did. And then we got back together because we were young and stupid and we should not have, and then there was like several months… So technically we dated for a year and some months, but the last, I don’t know, six months of that was miserable. We barely talked. It was awful. She cheated on me. I didn’t even know that until years later and I didn’t even care at that point because I looked back on it and I was like, oh, that was the least of the concerns. It was mostly the six months where we didn’t talk, but we were still together. So I had that relationship where it was just very much like, “I’m 18!” And then I had my last serious relationship, which was about three and a half years, a little less. And that one was like, we lived together for about a year and a half, I think it was, and really shared a life together in a way that felt… The year before we broke up, I had started putting money aside for us to get a dog. And we had talked about marriage at some point. That was a very serious relationship. And I look back on both of those relationships, but especially the second one, as very positive. Even though it ended, it was a very successful relationship. I think we both grew a lot. And we’re not still friends, and she doesn’t like when I write about her or talk about her, so I probably should not get into too many specifics. But I view it very positively. And then something that I think I’m thinking about a lot right now is that I’m… And this is also something I’m not going to talk about a lot. But I’m sort of stepping, tiptoeing into what looks like it might be my next relationship of sorts. And so I think I’m thinking a lot about the past and the future and… Because I do think, what you’re saying, Heather, about it being largely about luck and about living in the moment and being like, oh, I want to take this next step with this person. Instead of being like, oh, I met this person and they’re going to be my forever person. That’s so intense. And I don’t know if I even really believe in that, at least for myself. And so it’s more just, it’s not like, oh, well what’s the secret? As much as it is… I guess I actually am trying to think and just lower the pressure all around in a way that I think in my first two serious relationships, I was very conscious of like, where’s this going to go? Where is this going to go? Where is this going to go? And this time I’m like, I just keep wanting to talk to this person and see this person and this person just makes me really happy. And as long as that continues, like, wow, how great. And trying to remove some of the pressure.
Heather: Yeah. I think one of the major problems I think around long-term relationships is that there’s a zero sum approach to dating, right? It’s like you’re trying to answer a yes no question. And it’s like, every step you take, it’s like, is this person the one? Is this person who I’m going to spend the rest of my life with? And I just think that’s kind of baloney. I don’t believe in that kind of thing. I don’t believe in “the one.” I don’t believe in that zero sum where you go and every date is where you’re trying to meet someone that you’re going to also die with. That’s just too much pressure to exist underneath. And so I think when people talk about “the one,” I think it takes a lot of personal responsibility off of relationships. And I also think it takes a lot of what I really do believe is just the luck of waking up every day and both you and the other person or other people wanting to continue to work at the relationship. And there’s no secret to that. That’s just, there’s some things you can do and you can control. But the hard part about admitting that about dating is that it really does just, there’s just no control over it whatsoever. And that’s very hard. It’s really hard.
Christina: Yeah. I know. That’s why I love dating. It’s so fun and loosey goosey and uncontrolled. All of my favorite words. I love that.
Heather: I know. Christina, you just said this, and it’s really interesting because it’s like the game that y’all played, “Would U-Haul.” Where it’s like, and I liked the way you talked about this because this is kind of how I felt when I was dating as well, where it’s almost like you have to trick yourself into not thinking further than like… Like when Drew was describing that scenario. It’s like there was the weekend and then you were together for like three months. And like you were saying a long-term relationship with an expiration date on it. You almost have to trick your brain into not spiraling further down the road.
Christina: Maybe that’s what I need to start working on is more brain trickery for me and just less overthinking and anxiety, perhaps, would be helpful for me.
Drew: Yeah. I mean, in my current situation, starting a long distance relationship during a pandemic with someone who lives in another country, when it started, it was, oh, I’m flirting with a hot person on Instagram. And there were people in Los Angeles who I was like, I have feelings for that person. What would that be? If we started dating, what would it be like? What would my involvement in that person’s life be? And all of those things did not work out. Whereas the person who I was like, oh, this hot person who I enjoy talking to every few weeks on Instagram, I had to trick myself. And I’m sure there are people out there who are emotionally well adjusted, who don’t need to trick themselves into getting into…
Christina: Huge, if true.
Drew: But for me, and maybe for all of us, it did require a certain amount of like, oh, this is always going to be casual. Oh, is it?
Heather: Right. Right.
Drew: So, yeah. I don’t know. I guess flirt with people in other countries? That’s terrible advice. You should probably go to therapy. But it’s worked for me.
Christina: Also, Drew, think about our audience. They’re already doing that. Let’s be honest.
Drew: It is true.
Christina: Come on, now. Come on, now.
Heather: This is a funny conversation for me because I do experience things in the moment and I don’t tend to worry too much about… I’m not a big processor. I’m not a big spiraler. I just, whatever happens, I feel like I’ll do it. And then if it works out, I’ll be excited. And if not, I’ll figure out how to fix it, that it didn’t work. And Stacy is not like that at all. She’s a person who experiences time in a very non-linear way. And it’s like both the past and the future like crushing in on her at all times. So being in a long distance relationship with no real aim when we were first together was actually very easy for me. But I think for her, it was not. The more secure our relationship got, the better it got because she was as secure as I was. But yeah, it is interesting to think about that now.
Christina: How long were you—
Drew: You are a Sagittarius?
Heather: I am.
Drew: I’m sorry. I was immediately pivoting to astrology.
Heather: It’s true.
Christina: We are going to astrology, but I did want to know how long you guys were long distance before you were in person?
Heather: About two years, two and a half years probably. And even just moving in was as silly as everything else. It was like, we were just at dinner one night when I was visiting her in New York and we were like, “Let’s move in.” “Okay, good idea.” You know what I mean? It was not a big processing thing. It was just like, this feels like the next step for us. Let’s do it. I think probably, in terms of the most processing we’ve ever done about a next step in our relationship, it was finally getting rid of the Ikea furniture. We’ve moved on to the place where we’re going to have assembled furniture into our house. That’s the thing, probably, that we’ve spent the most time really processing.
Christina: That is fascinating.
Christina: Yeah. Yeah, Drew, get into astrology.
Drew: Oh, I was just going to say that, that checks out with you being a Sag sun and I was wondering what Stacy’s sun sign was?
Heather: She is an Aries.
Christina: Ooh, intriguing.
Heather: Very fiery and no grudges. We don’t hold on to arguments. We just talk it out and we’re done. We don’t bring up past stuff, ever.
Christina: That sounds healthy.
Drew: That actually brings me to the next thing that I wanted to talk about because I think something that I see friends struggle with all the time is when they’re having problems in their long-term relationships being like, when do you know that you should work on it? And when is it time to give up on it? Because I think for myself, I don’t really struggle with that because I do think we had, as we talked about last week, I do just sort of jump to breakups pretty quickly, or just to… At least when, I don’t know, I think relatively quickly. And so sometimes I’ll have friends talking about problems in their relationships and I’ll be like, well, if I was this person I would not be in this relationship, but also they seem to have a relationship to fighting and to conflict that I don’t have. So do you have any thoughts on that as far as like… Because obviously, long-term relationships do take work and they’re not going to be perfect. But sort of figuring out the difference between innate incompatibility and just the normal difficulties of life?
Heather: Yeah. I’m going to say something that’s the weirdest thing about mine and Stacy’s relationship, which is that in 11 years, she has never, and I have never, said anything to intentionally hurt the other person. Ever. And we are very nice to each other. We are really kind and very careful with each other. We are more careful with each other than we are with anybody else. And we’re more careful with each other’s feelings. We’re more attentive. And I think we’ve understood that us as individuals and us as a couple, it’s a very fragile thing in a very hard world. And so in our relationship, in the conflict that we’ve had, there’s never been conflict we’ve had where I have felt like Stacy and I are on opposite… I don’t ever feel like we’re fighting each other. I don’t feel like we’re on opposite sides of a table trying to get what we want. I feel like we’re on the same side of the table trying to figure out something that’s on the other side of the table. We’re together trying to figure out how to fix the thing that’s over there. I always feel like she’s on my team. We saw a couples therapist early on after we moved in together. And one thing that she worked with us on and that has stuck with me, I think it’s the most profound thing anyone’s ever helped me realize, was that so oftentimes in conflict we revert to these very traumatized childhood versions of ourselves. And so we behave like the childhood versions of ourselves. We behave like these hurt children who don’t have the resources and tools to do the things that we do as adults. So she told us to think about when you’re in conflict about these specific things, think, Heather, you’re reacting as this 12 year old child. And Stacy, you’re reacting as your 12 year old child. And when she was telling us that I was imagining Stacy and I being like 12 years old, in our different lives, and how hard it was for us to, at that time, individually and what all we went through and sort of just the hard parts of our life. And I think about what if those little 12 year old girls were able to be together in a tree house. And I have this vision of us in a tree house at dusk with fireflies and whatever in this place where each of our 12 year old selves could be safe. And so when we have conflict that brings out those traumas in us, I always think back to us being like, okay, in this moment, we’re just these kids and we just need to be a safe place for these kids to deal with these really scary feelings and then we can be the adults that we are in our relationship. So yeah, I think, just for us, I don’t think we’ve ever had a conflict or a series of conflicts that have made me question our relationship. Because even in the hard stuff that we’ve dealt with and tried to figure out, I’ve never felt like we were against each other. I’ve never felt like we’re at odds with each other. And I’ve also never felt like we’re trying to actually hurt each other. Not that we don’t hurt each other, just that we’re not trying to hurt each other.
Christina: Right. Wow. First of all, if this podcast doesn’t get you a damn self-help book deal, then I think we have failed as a nation and as a people.
Heather: I am an elderly lesbian. I’ve lived a lot of lives.
Christina: Yeah, that was beautiful as hell, dog. What the hell? Coming out here on this Tuesday afternoon with feelings.
Drew: Wow. Yeah, I’m like, my heart. Yeah. I think a lot about how people are really afraid to be alone. And we talked about this on our breakup episode. And because so many of us have experiences with families or, I don’t know, other relationships or whatever that have taught us certain expectations, I sometimes think that just collectively our expectations and what we think we deserve is not high enough. And what you’re saying about how you and Stacy are never against each other, that there’s still conflict, but that you aren’t in conflict with each other, is so poignant to me and, I think, is something that is really possible for relationships in general. And I think so many relationships are just filled with conflict. And, look, if that works for certain people, that’s fine and I’m not here to judge. But I at least know for myself that that’s really inspiring to me. Because I think when I do look at the few relationships I’ve had, thinking when we’ve had fights. And it’s like, well, did we ever have fights? Like I didn’t have fights like when you watch, I don’t know, Marriage Story or whatever else, like there was no screaming.
Drew: There were tense moments. There were disagreements. I do think that approaching your partner from a place of compassion and wanting to… Because the question, right, when you have conflicts of any type is, is your goal to resolve this conflict so both or all parties are as satisfied as possible or is your goal to have conflict?
Christina: Right. Right.
Drew: Are you trying to fight or are you fighting because of these other things and you don’t want to be fighting? And I think a lot of people don’t know how to not want to be fighting.
Christina: And to win the fight, also. There’s a large dynamic of it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, as long as we have agreed that I was correct and I have won this argument.
Christina: Which is, I think, troubling. A troubling way to approach interpersonal relationships.
Heather: Absolutely. And yeah, I’m curious what y’all’s relationship is in terms of like… I am a generally conflict avoidant person and that also came into play in my relationships. Are y’all like that? Are y’all conflict avoidant or are you…
Christina: My Mercury is in cancer and so is my Mars. So I am what Chani Nicholas calls “a warrior waterlogged.” That’s right. You heard it here, folks. Passive aggressive as hell. It’s hot. It sucks. It is something that I’m trying to be better at because I have an absolute tendency to sulk and be an absolute cunt and not express why I am acting that way. Which is fun for no one, turns out. So that’s not fun for me. Drew, like you’re good at—
Drew: Well. Okay. So I think what I struggle with with conflict is that oftentimes I will be like, well, I’ll do what I was just suggesting other people do too much, where I’ll be like, well, I don’t want to be fighting. And so this isn’t that big of a deal, so I’ll just let it go. And I think what I’ve had to learn is to be more honest with myself about when I’m actually letting it go versus when I’m building resentments. So I guess it is sort of conflict averse because I am like… I mean with big things, I’ll talk about them. I’m not afraid of conflict when it comes to things that I think really matter. And I think I’ve had to accept the fact that certain things that I’m like, “This is so stupid. Why do I care about it?” Part of that sentence, that question I just asked myself, was “I care about it.” I might not know why, but I’ve learned that saying to friends or roommates or a partner or whatever that like, even to say, “This is stupid, but I’m having a feeling about this” is better than just in my own head saying, “this is stupid, don’t have a feeling about it,” because I am. And so often I’ll say that and the other person will validate it or be like, yeah, that’s stupid. But yeah, I won’t do that thing. Or I get why you feel that way. Or we just talk about it. And even sometimes saying it out loud, the “stupidity” of it, becomes more emotional and not just intellectual. Because I think I can think myself out of a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still a person with feelings. So I think I’ve had to work on getting to a place—
Christina: No, it does. Sorry, it does. I just wanted to jump in.
Drew: Oh, okay. Cool, yeah. Totally.
Christina: You can logic yourself out of a feeling.
Drew: Great. Good to know. Good to know.
Christina: I am crushing it.
Drew: But yeah. So I don’t know. I think that’s something that I had to learn and I think something that… I think it’s very possible to be in a long-term relationship and grow with the other person and change, obviously. I also think sometimes, especially thinking about — I started my one relationship when I was 18, I started the other relationship when I was 21. There were certain patterns that were established in those relationships that simply couldn’t change, that were just too challenging for the two of us to get out of the patterns that we had built. And so I think after my last relationship, I was very hyper conscious about the future relationships that I was getting into. Or even just the flings I was getting into and being like, is this doing this to me? Is this doing that to me? And being really scared of — honestly having commitment issues for the first time in my life. Because before transitioning all I wanted was commitment because I had this idea that if I met the right person, then I wouldn’t have my gender feelings. And so I was like, I just need to find my soulmate. I need to find my soulmate. I need to find my soulmate.
Heather: That’s all.
Christina: Nothing huge!
Drew: No, but I mean, it was so… What a terrible way to date, especially as a cis straight guy who everyone thinks is gay. And so then I, in leaving my last relationship and then I have the period of time where I was just single and wanting to be single and enjoy it. And then once I got to a place where I was like, oh, I think I am ready for another relationship, I was so scared of, I don’t want to be in a relationship where I feel like I’m being controlled or where I don’t have as much time for my work or I lose track of myself or I give too much to the person or all these traps that I fell into and previous relationships. And I think I’ve just learned that it is possible to start new relationships from a place of communicating those fears.
Drew: And instead of either just committing or not committing, being like, I really enjoy talking to you. Here are my fears. And obviously sometimes our community can process too much, so be spare. Please know your strengths and weaknesses and know that if you are someone who needs to be doing that more or needs to be doing that less, I’m also talking about if you are genuinely getting into a relationship with someone, not like you went on two dates with someone and you want to talk to them about your fears, please don’t do that. Or do it if you want to, I guess, just not to me.
Christina: And if they want to hear them, you know?
Drew: Yeah. You know, everyone’s different. But I think for myself of entering into this new thing, being like, wow, I just, anytime I’m having doubts or fears, I say things out loud in a way that’s kind and in a way that’s… I mean, I wouldn’t say anything not kind, because I don’t have anything not kind to say at the current moment. But just communicating it and then afterwards I’m like, wait, do I feel better after saying how I feel? Instead of in the past feeling this intense, emotional, what my old therapist used to call vulnerability hangovers. And I was like, oh, I’m not feeling that as much because instead of two years into a relationship being like, I think I need to be vulnerable more. Oh, I’m saying these things in a way that I never have with this person who I live with. Instead, it’s like, oh, I’m creating a new language of this relationship. And in that new language of this new relationship, vulnerability is loud and it’s thrilling. And now I don’t really have doubts. All those doubts and fears and commitment issues have just sort of gone away because I know that it’s safe for me to express it. It’s something about because it’s safe to express, they don’t exist anymore.
Christina: This sounds like fanfiction to me, but go on.
Heather: What’s really funny… You two are really funny in this way. It’s that you express yourself in this way where you’re like, oh, this might be a stupid thing or I don’t know if I could say this out loud. Except for the thing is that you are creating a podcast that so many people are relating to and listening to. And everything that you say that you’re like, this might be this or this might be that, they’re like, yes, I feel that! I feel that! Yes, I feel that! And it’s like you are creating a space for everybody else to be able to have comfort with these emotions that you are sitting with in a way that’s not comfortable for you, when they’re obviously universal. And that it does help to say that stuff out loud because being afraid in the dark is the worst time to be afraid. Being afraid alone is the worst time to be afraid. And when you can just give voice to that stuff, it comforts you. And you both are comforting so many other people. I just wish that would bounce back at you. Maybe you should listen to your own podcast more and then your fears would let go.
Drew: Wow. I mean, we have to, to give notes and stuff.
Christina: Yeah, we’re listening for edits, though.
Heather: Right. Right.
Christina: I feel like it’s not the same as taking it in maybe.
Drew: I do think that it has been really… I don’t know. It’s interesting. Because there are ways in which both this podcast and writing about relationships on the internet and those sorts of things, being very public about my personal life in a controlled, specific way.
Drew: I don’t know. There are ways that it has been really helpful for me. It has validated certain things where I felt alone in certain feelings and then been like, oh… I mean, something I think about a lot is if Christina and I need to frame it in a way that is self-deprecating, the way to frame it is, we’re not that special. That is the way of doing it in a way that’s negative, which is there’s always someone—
Christina: How dare you.
Drew: Lots of people. Sorry, Christina, you’re special. You know what it is? You are special, but your insecurities are not what makes you special.
Christina: That’s fair. I’ll take that.
Drew: Your doubts, your fears, those things are universal. What makes you special is all the other things. And so I think that has been something that’s been really thrilling to see. And with Autostraddle readership and listenership of people being like, this is so comforting, this is so validating and being like, oh, wow, that’s valid.
Christina: It’s a two way street.
Heather: It is.
Christina: It’s a two way street. It’s really lovely.
Heather: Yeah, your insecurities don’t make you special. But the fact that you’re willing to share your insecurities in a way that allows other people to feel less insecure, I think that’s actually very special. It’s really rare.
Drew: Thank you.
Christina: I would like to let everybody know that, unfortunately, Heather is now a required member of this podcast. I actually just need just this energy. I just need this little boost every day of my life. So..
Heather: I’ll come on and do the game show cheering.
Christina: Yeah! We just need a cheering section.
Heather: Yeah, yeah.
Christina: Yeah. So Heather, do you have a takeaway from your 11 years of being in a charming relationship?
Heather: Big takeaway? I think the best thing that you can do in a relationship, the most important thing you can do in a relationship, is to always play along with the other person’s bits. Stacy and I never leave each other hanging on the bits. Whatever it is, whatever the joke is, whatever the song is, whatever the dance is, the other person always picks it up.
Christina: That’s actually really beautiful. Bits are so important.
Heather: They’re so important. I think that, Drew, one of your great gifts in writing is that sort of, I’ve told you this before, the banter. The chemistry, the banter of the dialogue. And I think that is so important in connecting to someone in the beginning, but we lose that so often in relationships. And I think it’s so important to keep that thing that you start doing at the beginning. I think it’s important to just deepen it. And I think one of the things that I said in my wedding vows that I think is so important is that, what I want to build with Stacy is a language of inside jokes that lasts a lifetime and that no one else will ever understand. And I think that our bits started 11 years ago and we’re still doing so many of the same bits. They’ve just grown and become something else. And I just think it’s, I think just those little things are the most fun and the most important. And there’s not a day that goes by that we are not, truly — even though we’ve been stuck in this house together two years now working from home, side by side, same table — when we’re not really making each other heartily laugh out loud with our little, little jokes.
Christina: I love that. I love more jokes for all.
Christina: That’s the dream.
Drew: Yeah, it’s like, no lesbian bit death.
Heather: No lesbian bit death. Exactly.
Christina: I have to go. That just killed me.
Drew: Christina is ending the podcast because of that pun.
Christina: Because of that bit, I simply have to go. But you know, Drew, we can always identify as women of bit experience and I think that’s really beautiful for us.
Christina: So it’s time for Crush Corner, isn’t it?
Drew: Yes, it is.
Christina: Heather came locked and loaded with a crush. Who you got for us?
Heather: It is Serena Williams.
Christina: Oh 10, 10.
Heather: Oh, man. Everything she does. And I just, I don’t know when this podcast will air, but in real life, the Met Gala was last… Gala, gala? What do you say, gala?
Drew: It can be gay.
Christina: Gay-la. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Heather: It was last night and, gosh, she’s just perfect. She is just so sexy and so beautiful and stunning and smart and funny and athletic and everything she does is perfect to me. And I don’t know, I just follow all her Instagrams. She has an Instagram, her daughter has an Instagram. She has an Instagram for her daughter’s weird doll. And I said this earlier, but every time she’s out with her husband, he looks so shocked that he’s married to Serena Williams.
Christina: He does. He has extreme wife-guy energy, in a very charming way.
Heather: Absolutely. And I think that’s just what I feel like about her always. Anytime I can love on Serena is a good day for me.
Christina: Wow. That’s really beautiful. I love that. Drew, who you got?
Drew: Okay. So the new season of Sex Education is, well, it will be out when this comes out and I had screeners so it’s out for me right now. And I couldn’t pick one person. My crush is the whole cast. And also maybe the whole writing staff and directing staff. I love it so much.
Christina: It’s a really good season.
Drew: It’s so good. It’s one of my favorite seasons of television that’s ever been made, which, I’m a very hyperbolic person, so take that with what you take it with. But I just, I love the cast so much and they’re just so like… They’re all so charming. And every year, new cast members get added and they fit in so well. It’s like they just have somewhere where they have all these charming British people and they’re just all getting onto the show. And I just, I love them all so much. And I think I’ve said that I think my personality is like — if you just like take all the Sex Education characters — I realize that a few episodes ago, or maybe it was the last episode, that I said that my personality was the two main characters of Princess Cyd. So basically what we’ve learned is that I go into media looking to see my personality split among a bunch of people.
Drew: But there’s so much about so many different… I think what it is showing about that show is that all of the characters are so well developed and so well performed that they all feel real. And regardless of how different I am from those characters, because of that reality that’s felt, I see things in them that connect to me just on a basic sort of human level. And so that is why I’m like, oh, wow, I relate to all of you. And that’s what good writing and good acting is called. So I guess my crush of the week is the show Sex Education. But I also, it’s a very attractive cast as well. I mean, come on.
Christina: A real banger of a cast. 10 out of 10, I’d say on that one. For my crush, I’m going platonic again. And I’m saying Lil Nas X because I personally feel every time he does something incredible, which is every time he logs onto twitter.com the website, or creates a TikTok, or creates music, or goes to an event, I just feel like that is my baby cousin and I feel so proud of him every time he does something. And his People pregnancy photo shoot that was about his album is so brilliant. And it was a People exclusive, which is so funny that People was like, yeah, absolutely. We’re going to pay for the exclusive rights to this made up concept. It’s just like, he’s so brilliant. He is truly a child of the internet who has learned how to use his powers for good and delight, as opposed to making me roll my eyes and make me exhausted. And I just am so proud of him. I can’t wait till the album comes out. And I just feel like I know him and I don’t at all know him in any way. We are not related, but he is my cousin. So do with that what you will.
Heather: Love it.
Christina: That is my crush.
Heather: I love it.
Drew: I love it.
Drew: Well, Heather, can you tell the people where they can find you?
Heather: You can find me on autostraddle.com all the time, and on Twitter @theheatherhogan, and that’s the best place to find me and my cats.
Christina: I was going to say, there’s always cat content.
Heather: Yeah. I feel like I’m most famous for cats and making men cry. And that’s what you can find at twitter.com.
Christina: It’s an incredible tagline.
Drew: And so the last thing that we want to ask, as we always do, because we love to get some clarity, was: was this conversation a date?
Christina: Was it? I don’t know. I feel like probably no, because we just heard a really long story about a really charming 11 year long relationship.
Drew: Can you imagine? Can you imagine if you went on a date and someone did that? Heather still hasn’t answered, but can you imagine?
Heather: This is what it’s like to go on a date with me. So, yes. I feel like this was probably a date.
Drew: You just, you talk—
Christina: I love that.
Drew: Someone’s like, I thought we were going on a date. And you’re like, no, I’m just going to talk about my wife.
Heather: Yes. That’s exactly what it’s like. And also just to encourage — I just want to encourage you because I love you guys and I think you’re so wonderful. And that’s what it’s like to be on a date with me. To be like, no, I would just want to push this back at you and tell you, I think you’re great. And I loved talking to you and I love listening to you. And I think you are both going major places in the world, and I’m just glad to be a part of this small little piece of it.
Drew: Thank you, Heather.
Christina: I did not pencil in a therapy appointment today, so this was a fun surprise.
Heather: So this was a date!
Christina: So that is what a date is! Thank you so much.
Drew: Christina, that was your first mistake because our podcast episodes are always a therapy session for you.
Christina: That’s true.
Drew: Thank you so much for listening to Wait, Is This a Date? You can find us on Twitter and Instagram @waitisthisadate and you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina: Our theme is written by Lauren Klein. Our logo is by Maanya Dhar. And this podcast was edited, produced and mixed by Lauren Klein. You can find me online @C_GraceT on twitter.com, the website. And you can find me on Instagram @christina_gracet.
Drew: And you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @draw_gregory. And you can find Autostraddle on all social medias @autostraddle.
Christina: And go visit autostraddle.com because that’s the reason we’re all here today.
Drew: Thank you all so much and see you next week.
Christina: Yeah. We’ll absolutely see you next week, and we can’t wait.
Drew: Yeah, and maybe next week will be a date.
Christina: Hey, maybe it will be. Wilder things have happened.
Drew: Except you know what? I also think it’s important to clarify to the listener that if you ask someone if something’s a date or not, you probably should take that as sort of a moving forward… I don’t think every time you see someone you should, that’s not really direct communication as much as it is, not really respecting someone’s boundaries. And we do like boundaries here at Wait, Is This a Date?
Christina: The gayest thing about this podcast is that the outro is a boundary.
Drew, in a voice memo: I was 16 when the movie Blue Valentine came out and I became obsessed with it. And I’d show it to people and they’d be like, this is really depressing. And I’d be like, oh my God, no, it’s not depressing. The whole point of the movie is that it’s happy because, yeah, it’s miserable and they’re fighting and they break up. But at the same time, we’re seeing them fall in love. And the point is that even when things end, they were good at one point. I of course had not been in a relationship while I was giving these speeches about long-term relationships and marriage. But now I have been in relationships and you know what, I think 16 year old me was right.