Dear Dr. Frankie, How do I move on from a first love?
Dear Dr. Frankie
I came out about a year ago - although I had realized for almost a year that I was at least bisexual. I've had two relationships with girls, the first was before I came out and it was very unhealthy. I tried to make a few lesbian friends last year and I ended up getting into a relationship with the first girl I met. Five months into the relationship I felt her slipping away and it ended a month later. She never talked to me and I felt that the problems we had could have been worked out. I thought everything could be solved by conversation and compromise. This was the first healthy - and longest - relationship I have ever had. I truly feel like she is the one I'm meant to be with. It's been six months since we've split and I still keep thinking of her. No matter what I said and how I asked she remained silent and wouldn't talk to me. I'd love to go out and meet new people and to move on but I don't have any friends who are single and willing to go out to meet new people. I'm very shy. My city does not have a huge gay population and lesbians - to just be friends with - are hard to find. How do I pick up and move on? I had no issues doing this when I was with guys. It's like I've forgotten how to do this.
It sounds like your most recent relationship was significant because it was your first healthy (relatively speaking perhaps) relationship. I think this is a major reason you are yearning for more and unable to get your ex out of your head. Have you considered that perhaps what you are actually missing is the comfort and happiness you felt in this relationship, more than your actual ex. The truth is that it’s important to be attracted to and compatible with your partner, but if she can’t communicate and is avoidant it will be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. The avoided discussions often build resentment that undermines the trust, safety, and security needed in a truly healthy relationship. As painful as it might be, I think it’s time to refocus your energy. Rather than looking to your ex as the key to your happiness, try and adjust your efforts to recapturing the comfort of a healthy relationship. Allow yourself to explore other options by dating other women. In the early stages of dating try to get a sense of whether this individual is conflict avoidant and uncomfortable with communicating her feelings. These are red flags. By being honest with yourself early on you will hopefully prevent future heartache and pain. Conflict is not just inevitable, but healthy, in any significant relationship. It’s rarely conflict that will end a relationship; on the contrary it’s the lack of communication or poor communication that sours relationships.
In response to your comment that it’s harder for you to move on now as opposed to when you were dating men, my guess is that it’s because you weren’t actually interested in men. You were probably not emotionally invested in your relationships with men, but because you care deeply for this woman you also feel the pain more deeply. Make a conscious effort to look to the future and do what’s healthy for you by moving on. It may be more difficult in your area to meet new lesbians and you may have to consider traveling outside of your area. Here are a few links to articles I've written that you may find helpful in your process of moving forward.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I am indeed a lesbian and very proud of it. I was a victim of childhood abuse so there was no way I felt remotely safe coming out to family. My parents were actually the abusers and we now have no relationship. I don't tell people but certain people I have and others like making assumptions about me and go around telling people I am a lesbian. I am 54 years old and have never been in a relationship. I think a lot has to do with my trauma and abuse history. Intimacy can be a hard thing for me, although I know in my heart that is what I long for. For me to be with someone they would have to be very understanding and special. I know intimacy plays a big part in a relationship and I do have feelings and desires for physical affection.
I am very loving, giving, kind, and faithful by nature. I also have a big heart and I worry that people will take advantage of me. Do you feel I am relationship material or better off staying single? I have been told that I have a lot to offer. I am on the emotional side so I would definitely need a woman who is able to handle that. I definitely want to be with someone and most definitely someone who is on the femme to soft butch side. Thank you for any advice you may have.
It sounds like your childhood was extremely traumatic…so much so that you are now 54 years old and have never been in a relationship. A healthy relationship requires intimacy and trust. As you are well aware these are two things that can be greatly damaged when we are abused-especially when the abuser(s) are the people who are supposed to love and protect us. Until you focus on yourself and resolve some of your hurt and pain, you won’t be emotionally available to someone else. Hopefully you have sought out a quality therapist to begin this process. Together you can decide when you are in the right space to begin dating and eventually pursue a relationship. Although your friends say you are a catch and have a lot to offer, I am hearing that you are skeptical of peoples’ intentions. This deep rooted distrust of people will inevitably hinder your ability to find that special woman to share your life with. Focus on getting yourself healthy and once you’re ready you’ll know it. Only then should you take the leap and put yourself out there in a way you haven’t ever been able to before. Don’t look for a partner to take on that task, that’s what trained professionals are for. Best of luck to you!
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I have been having a hard time letting my ex girlfriend go. All I do is think of her everyday; I thought she wanted me as much as I wanted her. She wants no part of me now and I don't know how to stop loving her. I can't stop crying, my love for her was so strong and I can't just stop because she's not ready to be in a relationship. She gave me a key to her house told me she loved having me there when she got home, loved having me in her arms and in her bed. She told me she wanted to work on having a relationship with me. She wanted me to keep some of my clothes at her house so I wouldn't have to keep bringing my bag over. But I didn't because I didn't want to make her feel like I was trying to move in so fast. Then a week later she said she wanted her space and that it didn’t feel like it was her house anymore. I'm so confused and the fact that she doesn't want to talk about it with me anymore is upsetting. I don't know how to move on anymore.
I am so sorry to hear that you’re going through such a difficult period in your life. Emotional pain can be much more painful than physical pain, and it sounds like you really love this woman. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes we just have to lick our wounds and take things one day at a time until we find our footing. Have hope and understand that it’s a matter of time until this happens for you. As difficult as it is to believe right now, your pain will subside and eventually abate all together. Take this time to focus on yourself and be self-reflective. Consider your recent relationship and its unfortunate ending, and think about what areas of yourself you could improve upon. Get involved in strenuous physical activity, ideally of a social nature (team sport, boot camp, CrossFit, dance class…) at least three times a week. You will greatly benefit from the adrenaline and endorphins that your body naturally releases as a result. It will improve your self-esteem and also help you cope with your emotional pain and loss. Force yourself to be social, take care not to isolate yourself. Many of us have a tendency to separate ourselves from our support systems at the very times we need it most. Spend time with friends and family, exercise, eat well, sleep well etc. In time by focusing on these areas you will feel better than you did before you met your girlfriend. These painful experiences are life lessons and they force us to look deeper within ourselves. You have the ability to learn and grow from this and I have every confidence that you’ll be better for it.
Hey Dr. Frankie,
My friend is and pregnant and she's no longer with the father of the baby. Is it ok for a person to date while pregnant? Or pursue romance while pregnant?
As long as your friend is able to “show up” and be emotionally available she can pursue romance. It is really up to each individual person. She’s not forcing someone to go on a date with her. If someone is open to dating a woman who is pregnant than it’s okay. Sometimes people get pregnant and they’re not in love with their partner. They may want to partner with someone else to quickly form a family for their child. Obviously it’s not the most traditional way of creating a family but nonetheless most of us want to be loved and share the warmth of a loving family even if we’re single and pregnant. We all live in an imperfect world. It’s not always nicely packaged and neatly placed.
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