Dear Dr. Frankie, My Girfriend Won't Stop Navel Gazing!
Dr. Frankie Bashan
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I’ve been dating a great woman for a few months. I think we might have some long term potential but there are two major problems. She won’t stop talking about herself! I feel my eyes glaze over and try to redirect the conversation but it inevitably circles back to her. She is also insanely competitive with me. I adore her but this is a total drag—help!
Dear Reluctant Competitor,
This is a complaint I have heard before in lesbian couples. I suggest bringing your concern out into the open. Not talking about it won’t make it go away. Explain to her that it makes you feel uncomfortable and rather than encouraging sharing and dialogue, it actually shuts you down. Jealousy and unhealthy competition is toxic and will destroy a relationship.
There are several possible explanations for your girlfriend’s competitive behavior. It could be rooted in a poor sense of self and/or low self-esteem. If you think you have long term potential with her then think of ways to bolster her self-esteem and sense of self. Encourage her to do things that she excels at. Another possibility is that she is trying to show interest in your activities and accomplishments but doesn’t have the social skills to do so without coming across as competing against you.
Keep in mind that it’s one thing to help someone you love grow and evolve into a better person. But sometimes there is a fine line between doing this and being codependent. It’s not your job to fix her. If you find yourself with more of a work-in-progress than you bargained for, perhaps she isn’t the one for you. If you decide to go forward, then start by identifying all the reasons that you love your girlfriend and want to be with her. Then tell her. Let her know that what you are bringing to the table is for you to share, not to compete over.
It’s also important that you be self-reflective and make sure that you are not playing into it. Don’t automatically assume its coming 100 percent from your other half. Once you have checked in with yourself, if you decide to go forward and are afraid she will be defensive, consider broaching the topic with a therapist present. Expect that you will hurt your girlfriend’s feelings. This conversation could be devastatingly embarrassing. Being in an adult, honest relationship is sometimes very difficult. We all have to face our demons and look at the most difficult parts of ourselves.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I have been in love with an amazing woman for quite some time now. She used to be my teacher (she is 20 years older than me), but after I graduated we became close friends. We went out together to the movies, cafes and dinners. After some time, I decided that I should tell her how I feel about her, so I wrote a letter and gave it to her. A week later I called her and she said that she had not read the letter, but she would read it if I told her to. She also said that I should call her after I get back from my trip (I was going to London for a week or so). However I did not call her back because I got upset that she pretended to not know what it was all about. Then I called her on Christmas Eve and she again told me something like " I hope to see you next year". I still think about her very often and I miss her. I do not know whether I should call her and see what happens, or I should just let it go...I am looking forward to your answer. Thank you in advance.
My guess is that your disclosure may have been too much for your friend to wrap her head around. Her way of dealing with the letter is to avoid it and hope it fades away. When your former teacher learned that you have these feelings for her, it possibly triggered all sorts of fear within her. Since she is avoiding you it’s difficult to know what she is afraid of. It could be a fear of the age difference, fear of rejecting you, fear of you rejecting her over time etc. It could also be a boundary issue for her since you are a former student. Several months have passed since you gave her your letter. If you have not been able to heal and move on I recommend meeting her in person, or at the very least having a conversation over the phone. Hopefully by having the opportunity to discuss the letter and talk about your feelings, you will be able to move on. There is a slim possibility that the conversation could explore a romantic relationship. Regardless, it sounds like you’re struggling to move on knowing that someone you care so deeply for is avoiding a topic that is so important and very sensitive to you. As usual, I recommend communication. The outcome probably won’t be what you were hoping for, but hopefully you can find some peace knowing that you pushed yourself to have a difficult discussion. Even if your feelings are not reciprocated, perhaps having your feelings heard and understood will bring you some comfort. Best of luck to you.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I was in an incredible five-month relationship with a woman. We were planning vacations together and I thought we were very close. We talked and texted all day long. We slept together and even made love 48 hours straight. One day she told me she could not take the stress and after a hot five month affair she told me she is done. She said she needed a break and doesn’t even think we could be friends. I want to know what did I do wrong and was whatever I did so bad that I needed to be punished and completely cut off? She admits she misses sex and contact but remains stoic. She did say she was open to still having sex with me as long as her friends didn’t find out. I told her that is too high school since we are 49 and 50 years old. I really want her back in my life and am wondering if perhaps sex is the first step.
It sounds as if you and this woman developed a very intense relationship over the course of those five months. It also sounds as if the relationship became too intense for her, despite your obvious physical chemistry. Do yourself a favor though and try not to receive her message as a “punishment”. If she did not communicate to you that you did something wrong, don’t assume that you did. It’s natural to assume the worst when a relationship sours, especially if the other half is not communicating with you. Take this opportunity to gain some perspective on your relationship.
The fact that she is open to having a sexual relationship with you as long as her friends don’t find out is a HUGE red flag. I do agree with you that the kind of secret arrangement she is open to is definitely reminiscent of high school. From what you describe it does not sound like she is either emotionally available and/or interested in a serious relationship. Since you still have strong feelings for her I would caution you against becoming intimate with her. Move on and find someone who shares a common interest in a more meaningful relationship.
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