Dear Dr. Frankie,
I am married but have strong feelings for a close friend who is living openly as a lesbian. We have known each other for 6 years and my feelings have just continued to grow more and more strong for her. There is no one I want to spend time with more than her. We have a great time when we are together and I think about her all the time. I have never been unfaithful, but want more than anything to be with her.
I was completely shocked by my feelings for her, I have never had feelings for a woman before. I am not happy in my marriage and haven't been for some time. I have many reservations about a divorce, money for one and how to deal with all this with my children. I am also a public figure and I am nervous about living openly with another woman.
I have been to a counselor to talk about the issues related to the marriage, but I have not been able to bring up my feelings for my friend. I feel so lost and alone. I have been very slow making any changes in my life. My friend is now dating a woman and I feel like all my waiting and trying to figure my life out has cost me any chance with her. How do I figure this out so I feel confident enough to make decisions? —Confused Casey
I really think this question was answered fantastically by the Rev in CA:
I'm not Dr. Frankie but I've been in your situation (except that I was the close friend living openly as a lesbian and there were no kids involved). I think you would be wise to separate your feelings about your marriage from the feelings you have for your friend. You, your husband, and your friend deserve to be happy and to be treated respectfully. Therefore, if you are unhappy with you marriage, resolve that issue by seeking couple's counseling or a divorce. Chances are pretty good that you would not have developed feelings for your friend if you still had a strong connection with your husband. You really only have two choices: work hard to re-build your connection with your husband or start ending that relationship. Neither you nor your husband deserve the state of limbo that you're creating by moving too slowly to make a decision. Once you've sorted out your marriage, you'll have greater clarity regarding what to do about your relationship with your friend. If you're friend has any integrity, she wouldn't touch a married woman with CHILDREN so your feelings for her are a moot point right now anyway. Next, why are you paying a counsellor and not discussing the issue that seems to be a huge source of your discontent? If this counsellor cannot help you in this area, then hire someone who can. If you want to eventually pursue something with your friend you are going to need some serious courage. Build this courage by making the tough decisions about your marriage first. More than ten years ago I was a catalyst in breaking up a marriage. I'm still not comfortable with that fact. As a consolation though, I have been with that woman ever since and we've been so amazingly happy together. Her ex-husband found a nice woman to settle down with and they are quite happy too. Everybody is much better off. If you do things in the correct order you can have the life of your dreams and avoid a lot of guilt and animosity (from your husband and children).
As a public figure and especially because you have children, it's important to take your time and make wise, calculated decisions. It is absolutely imperative to do your best to separate your feelings of being in an unhappy marriage with the longing to be with your friend. Your first step should be for you and your husband to attend couples therapy. You can simultaneously attend individual and couples therapy, but I always recommend using two different therapists so there is no overlap and potential conflict of interest. Please strongly consider finding an individual therapist with whom you can discuss your feelings for your friend. This is a major part of your inner conflict right now so make sure to use your resources to their full potentials.
I agree that you probably would not have developed such intense feelings for your friend if your connection with your husband was stronger. Because you have children together you and your husband will always remain connected in some fashion or another. Don't let your friend's relationship-status pressure you into making any hasty decisions about your own life. I know this is a painful and confusing time for you and I commend you on your courage. If you seek the right professional help and take care to separate your unhappy marriage from your desire to be with your friend, I am certain you will be able to successfully negotiate this minefield. Best of luck Casey.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
My girlfriend and I have been together for about two years and have a great relationship. Although we have a very healthy and trusting relationship, she maintains close friendships with several of her ex-girlfriends. I’ve expressed how uncomfortable it makes me that she keeps these women in her life, but she tells me I have nothing to worry about. I trust my girlfriend and wish I could be OK with it, but I sometimes find myself feeling unbearably jealous. Is it too much for me to ask her to stop hanging out with her exes?—Jealous Jane
This is a terrific question and a common source of tension between many lesbian couples. As women we tend to develop close emotional connections to our girlfriends and our friends. Just because a romantic relationship ends it does not mean that the emotional connection is over.
Let’s begin by trying to discover what your girlfriend’s motivation for maintaining these friendships are. Do you believe she or her exes are holding on to any hope of rekindling their relationship? Is the attention fueling your girlfriend’s ego or self-esteem? Is it clear that both your girlfriend and her ex have moved on?
If your girlfriend is an emotionally healthy individual who is able to maintain appropriate boundaries with her ex girlfriends, I don’t see any obvious reason for concern. An occasional lunch or drink with an ex-girlfriend should not be considered a red flag. If you believe the amount of time she spends with her exes is unreasonable, consider asking her to try to meet them during a time that doesn’t limit your time with her. If things are above-board then I believe it is unfair of you to expect her to sever friendships with her exes just because they are no longer dating.
Considering the way you describe your current relationship I wouldn’t give your girlfriend’s friendships too much worry. These are women who shared a part of her life with her. Respect their history and focus on the positive aspects of your relationship and the fact that you’re the one with her now. If you suspect there may be more to the equation and are wondering if your girlfriend might not be over her ex, check out my most recent blog post about these kind of warning signs at littlegaybook.com.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I’m in my early 20’s and after several failed, long-term heterosexual relationships, and a lot of heartache and soul-searching, I finally figured out that I am a lesbian! I’m a confident, strong, outgoing woman-but I’m also extremely feminine. I never leave the house without my hair done and makeup on. I wear high heels, skirts and dresses. Although I think I’m relatively attractive, no lesbian even looks twice at me! If I get dismissed one more time as being bisexual (not that there’s anything wrong with that), bi-curious, or straight up STRAIGHT, I’ll scream. I’m attracted to soft-butch / androgynous women- please help! Am I going to die alone?
Wow-where have you been? I knock myself out trying to find feminine lesbians for my clients. The problem with our community is that we all just loooove to label everything; soft butch / stone butch / pillow queen / lipstick lesbian / high femme, you get the idea… I believe that these stereotypes are slowly beginning to have less and less meaning and we as a community are learning to be more open and accepting of people who don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold we may be used to.
Consider creating an on-line dating profile where you can post a photo of you in all your femme-glory and regalia. You can clearly state your dating preferences and that you are a woman seeking a woman. Also, in all fairness to those who assumed you were bisexual or straight, one of the most embarrassing moments for a confident butch with swagger is getting up the nerve to hit on a hot girl who turns out to be a hot straight girl. Major buzz kill. Try to expand your social circle so you have new girl friends to go out with and meet other new girl friends. Post on craigslist, local coffee shops, the LGBT Center for activity partners or check out meetup.com.
The lesbian grapevine is a force to be reckoned with. It won’t be long before you’ll meet the woman who wants to open your car door, and lead the tango.
Single? Looking for your soul mate? Dr. Frankie invites you to share her Love Seat. Post your questions to lesbian matchmaker Dr. Frankie Bashan below and check back on here at curvemag.com on May 23, 2011 for her answers.
To learn more about Dr. Frankie's matchmaking and dating/relationship coaching services please visit her website at littlegaybook.com.