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She lives with her ex-girlfriend

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 13, 2010 09:00 AM

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In the land of women ...

Q: Dear Meredith,

Love your writings and forums. Your perspective is so valuable, and I am certainly in need of some!

I'll start this letter by explaining that lesbians are different. Our "people" tend to live by different "norms" in relationships. My girlfriend and I got together after being friends for many years. We were both in other relationships and each thought that the other was not interested in more than friendship. Once we discovered that we were interested in being more than just friends, we started dating. Lesbians tend to get very serious very fast, which certainly occurred here.

It has been six months and I feel like we have a strong, trusting, and loving relationship. I am happy. Here's the "but" (otherwise I wouldn't be writing): she still lives with her ex-girlfriend and wants me to go to their house to hang out and spend the night. I absolutely believe her when she says that they are friends (almost every lesbian is friends with her exes) and that there is no possibility that they will get back together. On the other hand, she says that her ex is her "best friend." They talk and text daily. They go out together with their friends. I am always invited to hang with them. I have gone occasionally. While seriously awkward, it is somewhat bearable.

However, going to their house is gut wrenching for me. After going there a few times (for dinner and once while the ex was out of town), I won’t do it anymore. It is so incredibly uncomfortable, awkward, and stilted. Her ex is nice enough to me, but won’t look me in the eye and I feel her hurt each time I see her (something my current girlfriend doesn’t see). I went to their house for parties; we all hung out as friends. It will always be their house to me and all I feel when I enter is the energy of their relationship. Even when the ex is not there, all I can think and feel is them together.

While I do not think she will leave me for her ex, I must admit that I am threatened by the relationship. I feel like she has two girlfriends, which is simply not ok with me. I've attempted to explain my feelings in numerous ways and the response I get is that they are friends and I have nothing to worry about. I respond that I am not "worried," it just doesn’t feel right or good to me.

At this point, I have told her that she has to make her own decisions for her -- i.e. whether she wants to stay there or not. She says that she does not have the money to move and likes living where she is living. She doesn't see why she has to move because it is a good place for her. My decision for me is that I will not go to their house.

– Looking for a Place in the Middle

A: LFAPITM, as much as I'd like to tell you to stop generalizing about what lesbians do, I have to admit that many of my lesbian friends manage to have fantastic friendships with former loves without the politics and jealousy I often see in heterosexual relationships. And I also notice that those same lesbians get serious fast. So go ahead. Generalize.

You're meeting all of the expectations of your "people." You don't object to your girlfriend being friends with her ex. You do, however, object to feeling like a third wheel. Fair enough. To be fair, my lesbian friends who pal around with their exes don't live with them. They moved out ... and moved in with their new girlfriends. (What's that old joke about what lesbians bring on a second date?)

Whether you're gay, straight, or other, you're also human. You human gut tells you who's a threat to your relationship and your sanity. Avoiding her house is only a temporary solution. A change in her living situation is a permanent one. I'm not saying she should move in with you, but I am advocating that she find a way to make you both comfortable. If your relationship is that serious, shouldn't it be her priority? What is more important ... her living situation or her current romantic relationship?

You're a lesbian. You're not a robot lesbian. You have feelings. If you're uncomfortable with your girlfriend living with an ex because of the way she interacts with this specific ex, she should respect that. She's basically telling you to shut up about it, and that's not OK. Your demand for her to live somewhere neutral isn't unreasonable.

Tell her what you told us, that you're looking for a place in the middle. Actually, tell her that you're demanding a place in the middle because you want this to work. I hate ultimatums, but that's just where you are.

Readers? Should her girlfriend have to move? Are lesbians supposed to be better at coping with this kind of thing or should we take gender out of the equation? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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