Dear Dr. Frankie, How do I tell my friends to GROW UP!
Dr. Frankie Bashan
Dear Dr. Frankie,
Can you please help me understand why so many women in our community resort to juvenile tactics when a relationship ends? Once we reach a certain age we should see how petty this behavior makes us look. I have several friends who rely on passive/aggressive behavior to resolve conflict…
I have two friends over the age of 50, who recently broke up with their girlfriends. They go out of their way to do things or make comments on their Facebook pages to belittle the other. Why can’t they just move on already? They kiss their exes in front of each other, which resulted in a fight at a party (and one was kicked out). Then there was the dividing of the Facebook friends, which I refused to do. My friends were quite disappointed when I refused and stayed friends with both. I had no intention of enabling their ridiculous behavior. One friend went to parties and had pictures taken with the youngest women they could find to post on Facebook, just to get back at the other.
Last night a different friend over 55 years of age told me I should unfriend her ex of about one minute, because my allegiance should be to her. She said if I really cared about her then I shouldn’t have anything to do with her verbally abusive ex. Well her ex lives out of state so there's very little chance I will be meeting this chick at Starbucks for a latte. I think my friend’s ex needs to work with someone regarding her anger/emotional issues. I actually know a good psychotherapist who could really help her when/if she is ever open to the idea. So I want to keep her friend status in case she wants to reach out to me when she is in the area.
What is wrong with our community and why are these women who are old enough to qualify for their AARP memberships tormenting themselves like teenagers? The wounds that they create go so deep I think neither may ever recover from them.—Perplexed
In my experience we’re never too old to regress! Regardless of our age we have the ability to resort to juvenile behaviors, especially when someone has hurt us deeply. If these women didn’t have feelings for their ex’s they wouldn’t dedicate their lives to finding new and exciting ways to hurt them. It’s a primitive human reaction to respond to pain by acting out. This includes partaking in behavior to make an ex feel as terrible as she feels. What better way to accomplish this than by reaching out to a large group of mutual friends and acquaintances via social media. It’s no coincidence that bullies love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc… as a platform to embarrass, insult and humiliate their targets. Social media offers a distant and sometimes anonymous way to spread spiteful messages and reach a greater number of people for the maximum devastating effect.
Clearly your friends struggle to take the mature, honorable path of coping with their hurt and anger. They have a choice to either boost their own tattered ego by partaking in self-care, or to publicly humiliate and demean their ex to make her feel as crappy as she feels. Ideally she would have the insight and ability to take the high road and manage her anger by engaging in healthy activities that will boost her self-esteem. Consider helping your friends make the right decision by encouraging (or dragging if necessary) to take up a new hobby. Enroll in a pottery class, learn a new language, join a gym, travel, walk a dog at the SPCA, engage in a daily ritual of meditation or mindfulness, join a writing group or a book club. The possibilities are endless! This is a wide, vast world with endless possibilities to partake in self-realization and self-improvement.
Show your friends how to channel their anger away from hurting the women they once cared for, into self-betterment. Studies show that we benefit greatly from engaging in acts of kindness. Acts of malice and spite only cause pain and damage to everyone involved. I too have moments of wanting to act out in ways that I wouldn’t be proud of. I often alleviate this pressure by journaling about my negative thoughts rather than acting on them.
Every relationship offers us an opportunity to self-reflect and become a better person…or not. In my experience people whose decisions come from a place of love and kindness, will reap the benefits 10 fold.
None of us are above having moments of regression. Giving yourself the space to express the non-adaptive feelings in a healthy way will propel you forward, and give you greater understanding and sharper tools to utilize in your next relationship.
On a practical note, have you considered simply blocking or de-friending your drama-addicted friends from your Facebook page? If these women didn’t have an audience there would be less temptation to act in this way. Many of my friends are actually deactivating their Facebook accounts altogether, and most have found that they don’t even miss it.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
This is my first time in a lesbian relationship. Here’s the timeline: we connected six months ago and dated for four months. Her ex wreaked havoc, so she spoke to her ex and they hashed out some past issues. The daily texts between them began to cause a lot of anxiety and fights between us. Throughout our relationship my girlfriend kept saying I was “the one”. We planned our future together and she talked about marriage. I thought to myself, “she is really serious!” Two weeks ago on a Sunday she wanted to marry me, she was head over heels. By Tuesday she said that we needed space. On Friday she ended things by saying that we were not meant to be. This was all via text!!! I got no explanation, only excuses. I tried to communicate with her but she does not want to speak. Three days later on the following Monday I got a text that she hopes I am doing well!! Well guess what, I'm devastated! I am so in love with her and she left me so abruptly. These past two weeks I got three texts without having initiated any. I am thoroughly confused. Did she shut the door too soon and now she regrets it and wants an opening? Or is this a game?—Baffled
Based on your girlfriend’s (at-best) cryptic communication it’s impossible to know what is motivating her to be so hot and cold. Regardless of her intentions, she is clearly not taking your feelings into consideration. She is showing you that she has no regard or respect for you when it comes to how her behavior impacts you. Typically when a person does the push-pull thing, it’s often because they’re conflicted or ambivalent about what they want. Also, in my experience it’s difficult for women to completely let go of their ex’s. Women’s ex’s just seem to looooove to lurk around in the shadows. She may have unfinished business with her ex that is holding her back from being completely available to you. Be kind to yourself by not torturing yourself over someone who does not respect you, and whose idea of ending a relationship via text message is considered acceptable conduct.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I have just reconnected with my best friend whom I have known for 30+ years. We lost touch for a few years and have just reconnected. I have always enjoyed her as a great friend and it has been wonderful to reconnect with her. My friend has just come out of an eight-year relationship, and had a 3-year affair during the last 3 years. I am in love with this person and don't know how to handle the situation. She is still in love with the person she had the affair with and I'm not sure I should tell her about my feelings for her. It pains me to see her with someone else. Please help me out anyway you can. Thank you,—Tortured Soul
This sounds like a pretty complicated situation. I don’t necessarily think it would be a terrible thing to tell her your feelings, BUT I would think about it very carefully before disclosing your feelings to her. One consideration you’ll definitely want to make is the possibility of pushing her away. When she learns that you are in love with her she may feel overwhelmed, given the fact that she’s in love with someone else. I recommend asking yourself if you realistically believe she would leave her girlfriend of 3 years, whom you know she’s in love with, to be with you? If the answer is no, then perhaps it would be too great a risk to disclose your feeling to her, and possibly lose your friendship of 30 years. Best of luck to you.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I finally found the quote of yours that I have been perplexed about: "You probably want to get a sense of whether she’s had long-term, healthy, intimate relationships, whether she’s had positive experiences in her relationships and whether she and her ex maintained a friendship after the breakup" I get why this would be revealing, but sooooo many gay women have unhealthy boundary issues with their exes. The fact that the woman you’re writing about is still intertwined with her ex on a daily basis, and they even vacation together is a red flag to me.
No one, gay or straight, who I've asked why they cheated ever said it was planned. They always said it was an accident. It "just" happened yet when you look at all the times they gave place to thoughts/physicality for intimacy it was NO accident. Example: I was at a PRIDE party last year and sat next to a chick I've seen on Match.com so I knew she was single. While we were engaged in conversation I found out her ex had spent the night before at her place, in the same bed, but...oh...they put a pillow between them and nothing happened. *rolls eyes* And it wasn't the baby's mama.
So I’m wondering what is a healthy distance for an ex, because I don't even know where mine are. I also do not have any desire to chat with them or have them in my life at all. I find it's the most effective way to move on and not still have those emotional attachments that lead to emotional cheating first......—Boundaries Needed
A rule of thumb that can help guide you is to be aware of any extremes. For example, if you meet someone who is so close to her ex that she’s going on vacations with her, using a pillow to delineate sides of the bed, prioritizing her ex over you, and texting her ex on a daily basis, one could reasonably conclude that they are enmeshed. By this I mean they share an unhealthy attachment. This would be red flag 101 indicating someone with poor boundaries. On the other end of the spectrum, someone who severs any and all connection with every ex, no matter how significant the relationship, can also be a red flag.
Life is not black and white. A healthy person with healthy boundaries should be able to maintain some connection with at least one of her ex’s, even if that means the connection is really distant and they’re just Facebook “friends”. It would concern me if I was dating someone who had had several long term relationships but was completely estranged from all of her ex’s. When someone has a strong, healthy romantic relationship with another person over a period of time, the end of the romance doesn’t mean they need to disconnect completely. Time passes, people change, and assuming all parties involved are well-intentioned and healthy, there should be room for relationships to evolve. Part of living a full, healthy life is being open to what life has to teach you. My advice would be don’t cut your nose off to spite your face, stay open to life’s experiences and the lessons we can all learn along the way.
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