Dear Lesbian Life:
I have been dating my current girlfriend for nine months. We have been friends since our freshman year of college (about 6 yrs). Here's my dilemma: I feel like I don't want to be with her romantically any longer some days, and others I feel like I couldn't love her any more than I already do.
Everything started great... the time we spent together was magical and every time I would leave her apartment to go back to mine I just wanted to stay longer. Like most new couples, we couldn't get enough of each other. But, the problems started developing shortly afterwards.
She is ClingyShe is really clingy. We don't go a day without talking multiple times. She gets agitated if I want to do anything without her. In fact, she's practically invited herself to hang out with my friends and me multiple times. And if she doesn't do that, I feel like she's guilting me into inviting her by saying "I don't know what I'm going to do while you're gone."
I Feel TrappedWe did move in together and I feel trapped because we are together 24/7. I have tried to take a break from the relationship with her twice before but to no avail because she started crying and I didn't want to hurt her. Right now all I want is to take a vacation somewhere else and not feel the need to talk to her. AND, I don't know how to bring any of this up again because I tell her quite frequently now that I think we both need to hang out with people we haven't contacted in a while (I haven't neglected my friends, but I would like to spend some time with them without her. She has neglected her friends.)
To make matters worse, we are on the lease together until April 2009. We have separate bedrooms, but have slept in the same bed for months now. I would like to work it out, but I know that if we weren't living together I would have broken up with her already. I don't know what to do. I want some space without making it awkward.
Dear Trapped,Let’s try to put this in perspective. Feelings of ambivalence in a relationship are normal. And nine months is not that long. Actually the nine-month point is often when we start to come out of the “honeymoon” phase and transition into the day-to-day of maintaining a relationship. It’s good that you’re looking at your issues and questioning things.
Now comes the real test: how do you deal with these differing needs and expectations? You have a need for space. She seems to need to be with you 24 hours a day. Can you work out a compromise, or is this a relationship deal-breaker? One thing I do know, if you don’t get a handle on this, and quick, this relationship is not going to make it. Or, you may all ready have passed the breaking point.
You need to figure out a way to get your space. If you feel trapped now, after only nine months, imagine how you’ll feel after 12 or 16. It’s easy to look at your girlfriend’s behavior and put the blame on her. But what’s actually going on here is a dynamic. One that the two of you share.
How to Stand Up to a Clingy GirlfriendYes, she is clingy. But you haven’t had the backbone to stand up for yourself, to take the space you need, or even to break up, if you think that is the best option. No one wants to hurt their partner, but you can’t let the fear of hurting her keep you from living your life either.
I’m not here to tell you if you should or should not stay. That is yours to figure out, but what I do know is that unless you are able to ask for what you need, and she is able to give it, then the resentment will just build. That is not going to be good for either of you.
No two people are perfectly suited. You want a certain amount of personal space. She wants a certain amount of together time. The two don’t match. This just happens to be your issue. For another couple it might be something different: how often they have sex, money and spending issues, chores or what to do with free time. I’m not so much concerned about WHAT your issue is, but rather HOW you deal with it. Because I’ve got news for you, if you can’t stand up for yourself in this relationship, you’re not going to be able to in the next one either.
You’re only feeling trapped because you allowing yourself to be. Change is hard. But in this case necessary. You’ve set up an unhealthy dynamic and you’re feeling smothered. If you want time with your friends without your girlfriend, then take it. She can deal with her feelings about it. As a matter of fact, it will be an opportunity for both of you to grow. As you start to take space and assert yourself, it will stir up feelings in both of you. Be willing to talk about it, to reassure her that you still love her, but this is what you need. Depending on how it all goes, it will become clear to you whether to stay or not.