"Hi Everyone! So I'm in a kinda awkward situation... I've been dating this lady for 7-ish months and spend a lot of time at her place. I recently found a few old mementos from her past lovers - love notes, journals, cards, gifts, etc. I'm finding it hard to not feel jealous (especially cuz I'm not as experienced as her when it comes to relationships, and I trash everything after the relationship is over)... What do you suggest we do? Do I have the right to feel upset and jealous about this?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Happy 7-months-ish relationship, Anonymous! I would like to begin by telling you that my first-ever girlfriend kept a journal for me during the summer that we fell in love. She wrote in it nearly every day, detailing so many of the moments we spent together, and at the end of the summer she gave it to me to keep. It was one of the most incredible gifts of all time… and it was given to me twenty years ago. I use those italics because holy shit how did I do *anything* twenty years ago, but also to underline this point: I am now married to an entirely different person and I still keep that journal in my house. It is a memento – exactly the word you used to describe the items in your question! – and a very powerful memento of a very important time in my life that I spent with another person who I loved dearly.
Keeping mementos of past loves, in my opinion, is a very normal (and vital!!) part of our lives. We are people, after all, so we don’t remember much of life’s detail as weeks, months, and years pass us by. When we share something important with another person, we grow. The people that we love and have loved are very big parts of who we are. So, your girlfriend holding on to milestones in her life does not mean that she is still in that place today – it simply means that the place she was once in was very important, and she wants to be able to remember certain pieces of it.
Do you have a right to feel upset and jealous?? Of course you do! We all have rights to feel our damn feelings, and finding those mementos stirred up a lot of feelings inside of you – you are jealous and upset, and you also explained that some of these feelings might come from the fact that this is one of your very first relationships. So, you are probably thinking things like, “If she has these things it must mean she wants to be with those other people still!!” (to which I would say no it most certainly does not and please reference my memento-discussion above), or “I am probably not going to be as good of a girlfriend as those other people were!!” (to which I would say: you most certainly *are* going to be a wonderful girlfriend, but you will not be the same as they were, nor should you wish to be – she is with you because you are different!).
My words probably won’t make all of those feelings go away, and I would encourage you to talk to your girlfriend about those feelings – but not in a way that makes her feel she has done something wrong. She hasn’t! You aren’t doing anything wrong by feeling these things either, but you should look to her to help you through those feelings. She might be able to explain to you why she keeps the things she keeps, or she might be able to just say to you, “Hey. I care about you right now, and that is what I want to focus on. I can remember things from my past fondly and not want them back – and I would love it if you could work to trust my feelings for you.”
Whatever you do, don’t ask her to get rid of those memories. Often, in love, the tighter we try to hold someone, the more they wriggle away. The most powerful way to love a person is to let them be who they are right now while also loving the person that they once were (and all that that entails) and the person they are becoming as each and every day goes by.
"I moved to a new city in the Fall and started dating a lady. This is my first romantic/queer relationship! She is much older than me. l I met her entire family for the holidays after 1 month of dating! She wanted me to define "us" shortly after and texts me/wants to see me everyday. I've told her I needed space but she'd bombard me with texts like "You don't care, why are you with me, you're too young, I'm just your entertainment, etc." She also yells a lot. It stresses me out! What should I do?"
Question submitted by Anonymous
This is not a healthy relationship and this is not an appropriate or respectful way to treat someone, END OF STORY.
Since this is your first queer/romantic relationship, I need you to know something important: There are oh-so-many humans out there who will NOT yell at you all the time, who will be able to hear you when you express YOUR needs, and who will have the ability to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. This person you are dating is obviously struggling with some deep-seated insecurities surrounding commitment – which is understandable and even surmountable with time and work, but something that she needs to work on without dragging you through it and disrespecting you during the process.
In my opinion, you should do one of two things:
1. Break up with her. I truthfully think that, given what you’ve said here, this person is not going to be able to hear what you need enough to work on themselves while in a relationship. Explain that you are not in the same place, and that it would not be good for either of you to continue further. If she will not let this drop and the situation escalates, leave the conversation. If necessary, block her phone, block her socials. Make it a clean break – this situation desperately calls for that kind of action.
2. Explain yourself and try one more time. If you think that I’ve read this too harshly and you want to try a longer-arc approach, make plans to have dinner in a public place. At dinner, explain to her that you are not ready for the level of commitment she is after, and that you need for things to either slow down considerably, or for things to end. If she yells at you, tells you that you are wrong, or implies in any way that you cannot both need space and also care about her, that is when you end things and refer to suggestion #1. If she listens to you and is willing to work & step back a bit, etc, then you can give it a shot… but BE VIGILANT. Giving you space means she is actually going to give you space, not just say she will give you space and then berate you any time you actually take it.
Listen. Relationships of any kind, regardless of age, age difference, or anything else, require respect and communication. What you are saying here can be pared down to: My girlfriend does not listen to how I feel, does not consider what I need, and does not respect me as a person. That is all I ever need to hear to say: end it. You deserve better.
"I identify as bisexual, and have been dating a guy for nearly two and a half years now. For the past several months I've been having very strong feelings for a female colleague of mine and this weekend we hooked up. She has feelings for me as well but we can't date because of workplace rules. Is it worth breaking up my relationship with 2 years guy for a person I can't even be with? I can't be out at work or at home. Thank you for taking the time to read this."
Question submitted by thisispoppycock
Hello there, Poppycock.
Here is the thing: breakups shouldn’t hinge on whether or not you have the opportunity for another relationship or not, they should hinge on how you feel about the person you are dating.
From the tone of your question, I am getting that you are in a monogamous relationship. You have feelings for another person, and those feelings turned into making out… and guess what? Your feelings for this other person didn’t go away. They intensified. Which also means that, dating or not, you are in an emotional (and now physical!) relationship with this other person. Even in many non-monogamous relationships, this would be past the point at which you would need to tell your partner about these feelings (and those actions).
I totally get having to stay closeted for various reasons, but, all on its own, that can be a very heavy weight to bear. Adding on to that heavy stuff with another, ongoing secret is going to slowly press on all your bones and muscles and tendons and cells until you find yourself swirling around on the inside of it all, totally confused and very, very lost. That lost and confused part is where most of us make super careless decisions and do things we wish we hadn’t.
Another thing that I would like to point out: you didn’t tell us anything about how you feel about your boyfriend! Not to read too much into the absence of that content, but liiiiiiike… my gut tells me that your feelings for him are rooted in the history and length of your relationship together and not the current state of the partnership itself. Your question essentially says: “If this girl and I could date, I would leave him without thinking twice.” That means that you and this boy should not be together, because, if for nothing else, it is incredibly unfair to him.
I think you need to come clean with your boyfriend and/or you need to break up with him. If you decide that telling him about the girl would only add insult to injury, fine, skip it, but it’s time to walk away. You have things you need to explore, and you aren’t going to be able to do that and also be a good partner to him at the same time.
It’s scary to take that step into the unknown, and many of us are afraid of being alone – but it is when we take those steps and find that solitude that many of us actually discover what we need and who we are.
Good luck. <3
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“I’ve been fooling around with my straight best friend for 6 months. Surprisingly, he made the first ‘moves’ and we progressed from there, but we agreed to keep it as ‘friends with benefits.’ But we act like a couple – we do everything together, and we both even say I love you several times a day. The only thing he won’t do is admit we’re ‘together,’ even though our close friends even say we’re a good couple. I call him Mickey (from Shameless) because he won’t admit he’s gay. Do I just wait?”
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Shane Billings Says:
In times like this I find great comfort in the electropop yodeling of Gwen Stefani, whose first solo album demanded that we ask ourselves: What you waiting for?
Not-so-totally long ago, I fell for a guy who kept small Warhol prints hanging on the wall of his bathroom, each with a different quotation. One, in particular, read: “The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” So I’d be visiting this guy, and I’d be in his bathroom, checking for boogers or stray hairs before smoochy time. And I would see this particular print and wonder… Does waiting actually make it more exciting?
Like, waiting at the DMV never made my registration tags sparkle or shimmer. Two hours in line at Space Mountain maketh not a spacier thrill. Waiting, in and of itself, does not promise meaning or value to the futures we’re hoping for.
So to answer your question: no, you shouldn’t JUST wait. Take your Gwen Stefani moment, and find out what exactly it is you’re waiting for. Waiting for Mickey to admit he is gay could be frustrating and insensitive to the reality that he may be searching for a different way to define his own sexuality.
Instead, pair the waiting with a variety of other things, like a behavioral platter of fruits and soft cheeses. Tell Mickey how you’re feeling about the dynamic in your relationship, and that you love him. Then wait a little.
Enjoy the current status of your relationship, and take pleasure in the fact that you’re able to do everything together. Expand your definition of “everything.” Wait a little more.
Watch a few Nora Ephron movies. Read a few Nora Ephron books. Then wait a little.
In a relationship, waiting can be a courageous act, so long as the waiting doesn’t make you inactive or resentful. Be generous and be kind. Give Mickey time and space to define his sexuality on his own terms. Appreciate your role in his discovery.
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