Hey y’all! Hope you’re about to have a spectacular Christmas. Or, I hope you had a swell Hanukkah.
Anyway I realized that I should check my email more often, because an intrepid young reader sent me a message with a really good question in it! Names have been changed to protect everyone involved.
I read two of your posts, Survivng the Friendzone and Nice Guy Syndrom, and was wondering if you had any advice for going from Dating to just being friends. You see, I was dating this girl for almost a year, a big milestone in my eyes, and a few days ago she broke up with me, 11 days before that 1 year anniversary. She brought up some very valid points, and after a day to mull things over I was okay with it. Thing is though, im still having a few problems it seems. The problems made themselves apperant when we went to the mall to hang, as friends, and I notices a love mark on her neck. Nothing too big, just a single one, nothing near what I’d given her on multiple occasions, yet it still brought up a good bit of jealousy mixed with depression. When we talked about it, she said its what I should expect now that we were ‘just friends’. Not in a mean way though, and it was a very valid and logical point. Yet…even after that I was still jealous of this unnamed man I didnt know. Any advice on how to deal with this would be much appreciated, even if it is just that I need to get over it and accept that she’s not mine anymore.
Treble Hoof (Jeffrey ********)”
A: First I’d like to say sorry about the breakup, but well done on handling it like a mature adult. Validating reasoning for your former ladyfriend ending your relationship is actually a pretty big step. Don’t forget, though, that it doesn’t count as validation unless you can actually for serious feel and mean what you’re thinking or saying about it. And really, this part will take some time. After you’ve for-sure come to terms with what she said, you can use those reasons to try to be a better boyfriend to the next lady who comes along.
Now, to the meat of your issue: she very obviously still means a lot to you, but she’s also apparently doing some sexytime-related things with another human being, and this can be really weird. It can feel a
little lot like she’s already found your replacement. This isn’t always the case, though, because women are actually also prone to rebound flings with people, too. I’m gonna guess that she is also hurting and that’s the way she’s dealing with it. Granted, there are other possibilities that are a lot more hurtful to think about, like “What if she was cheating on me with this dude?”
Well, the good news is the cheating part is no longer your problem and you don’t need to address it with her, because your relationship is over. The sucky part is that this could impact your friendship. If you want to remain actually friends with her, and not nice guy “maybe we can get back together” friends, then you have to actively decide to let that possibility of her having cheated on you go. I would caution against asking her outright about it, because if we’re all wrong and she wasn’t cheating, that’s going to make things awful and your friendship will definitely be weird.
The only way to deal with jealousy is to admit that you’re jealous, and that it bums you out. There’s not some magic method to getting rid of it, but if this is something that seems very difficult for you, I would encourage you find a therapist or trained professional (or trusted parent/guardian) to chat with about how you’re feeling. Since you mentioned some depression, perhaps the professional would be a better idea. What is super important with the jealousy and sadness is that you don’t try to squish them down. Give yourself room, preferably by not seeing her if you can, and let yourself feel sad about the end of your relationship and the possibility that she will be with other people.
One thing that might work well is asking her to give you a bit of time to do this. It’s a pretty rough thing to do, but if you make it clear that you do want to be her friend but need time to take her out of the “girlfriend” part of your brain, I have a feeling she will be understanding. And if she isn’t, maybe you should reconsider being friends with her in the first place.
I hope this was at least marginally helpful! And hey everybody, I can always be reached for more personalized advice at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is going to be a combo rant-advice time, which I realize might frighten some of you. Sit down, things are gonna get intense.
The holidays (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, etc.) are generally celebrated by gathering with family. In most cases, this means biological family, which means seeing people you only see kind of rarely.
This, for me, was the first Thanksgiving where I was not living with my parents, so I got to stop by casually to see everyone. Another fun fact: I have a staunchly conservative, Catholic grandmother who is somewhere in her eighties. I’m not out to her. I made the choice not to come out to her after I saw “defend marriage!” and “we hate abortion” flyers in her car a few years ago. It just seemed like the responsible thing to do.
I have learned, over the years, how to deal with the grandma questions. You know the type – the ones about relationships and marriage and children and crap. For instance, my first Christmas home from college we were all in our pajamas and eating chocolate on Christmas morning, and apropos of literally nothing, my grandma turned and said, “So, do you have any special boy in your life?” Super-amazing deflection response: “No, grandma, I’m really busy and haven’t thought about it.”
Two years later for Christmas I got a really nice box of silverware, but it had a card that was basically like, “Just in case I die before it happens, here’s your wedding present!” Really uncomfortable; I said thanks and we’ve never talked about it.
Fast-forward to Thanksgiving 2012, greeting everybody and saying my hellos as a visiting family member. My older brother whispers to me, “When are you gonna tell her you’re gay?” While talking about Black Friday shopping with my grandma, I mention my “roommate” (secretly my girlfriend, for those not in the know) had to work a really stupid shift at her retail job. Not two minutes later, my little brother went, “So… Roommate, huh? You should just tell her.” A little while after that, my mom felt it prudent to take me aside to remind me that my cousin had already come out, and that “grandma is totally okay with him being gay, so you could tell her.”
What does this have to do with anything advice-wise? A couple of things, actually, that I consider pretty important.
If you have a family member who is LGBTQ and they are not out to another person, family or no, it is NOT your job to tell them they can come out. We do not require your permission on this front. I don’t need you to tell me when I can or cannot talk about my personal life, or in what terms, and it’s really quite condescending and paternalistic for this to happen. If someone comes out, it is because they have given themselves the permission to do so, not because some straight person has deemed it “okay”. If you have a queer family member, don’t you dare tell them this ever, because it’s rude.
The second issue is that people are different, and people are viewed differently by other people. My grandma, for instance, might consider me her favorite grandchild (or maybe not, I don’t know), but the point is that she might view me in a different light than my cousin. That being said, she might not react as well as everyone seems to think if I were to come out to her.
The third issue is that the holidays are not just about one person. I don’t want to make a big scene and make Christmastime or Thanksgivingtime memorable to my octogenarian grandmother because that’s when she learned I’m gay. It’s about togetherness and family and being glad we have what we have, it’s not about coming out. Not for me.
At this point, I’m very thankful I can be out to the family members who do know. Further, I’m thankful I can still make my own choice and that nobody has outed me (as far as I know) without my permission.
So please, take a step back and consider, if you have to, the position your non-heterosexual family members might be in. They will come out to the people they choose, at the times they choose to do so. Don’t be a douche and try to push them to do it any sooner than they are comfortable.