When Is Enough Enough?

Dr. Darcy, I'm a 40-year old woman who fell in love with a woman for the first time. It is like nothing I have ever experienced. But I have a problem with her talking and hanging out with her ex, who she admits still has feelings for her. She even told me they hung out one night and watched a movie. It was late so her ex slept on the couch (later I found out that she slept in her bed fully clothed but NOTHING happened...hard to believe right?) [My girlfriend] is 48, her ex is 28 - BIG difference in age but the 28 year old knows how to play mind games. My girlfriend suffers from mental illnesses such as BPD [borderline personality disorder], anxiety & PTSD. 

Question is when is enough ENOUGH??! I'm confused beyond belief as to what to believe anymore. My girlfriend says she is just a friend - they’ve known each other for 2 years but only dated 3 months). Never had sex with her but being new to the girlfriend/girlfriend situation, I thought exploring with your fingers and kissing were sex?? I feel as though I can't break up with her but I can't stand feeling like this anymore…

ANSWER 

You had me with borderline personality disorder. Do you know anything about this disorder? Do you know how chronic and resistant to treatment it is? Do you know that it’s not a mental disorder that one is born with but that it is a learned behavioral response – a manipulative behavioral response that is 100% changeable but because the individuals who have it tend to be so averse to change, they virtually never get the help that they need – in part because one of the main characteristics of it is an unwillingness to look at oneself critically or objectively. Another not-so-attractive hallmark of this disorder: Pervasive drama within relationships – all relationships. They just can’t seem to get along peacefully, sans drama, the way the rest of us do.

I’m going to piss a lot of people off with this post (and I hope it repels personality disordered individuals from seeking me out as a therapist – I am not your girl). I would date virtually anyone (were I single) with any diagnosis they had – so long as it wasn’t what your girlfriend has. PTSD? No problem. Anxiety? Fine. Is your girlfriend in treatment? Because she needs to be. She should be in EMDR therapy for the PTSD & anxiety, and she should be in a DBT program for the BPD. Her life should be so consumed with therapy and management of her emotions that she doesn’t have time for the bullshit you’re describing with her ex.

When is enough enough? Yesterday. Last week. Last month. You’re there. Losing a girlfriend is nothing like losing a boyfriend. It’s going to leave a gap in your gut twice the size because you’ll lose a level of emotional intimacy that is very hard to find in a heterosexual relationship. But you’ll survive.

Get yourself into therapy to determine what it is about you that attracted and was attracted to someone like this woman – and you’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll pick better next time. For now, rip it off like a Band-Aid.

Gender & Orientation: Female, Unsure.

My Daughter's Fiancé is Disrespectful to Her

Dear Dr. Darcy: 

Help! My daughter's fiancé is mean and disrespectful towards her in front of my husband and myself. It can be a word or a whole tirade. On Mother's Day my daughter and her fiancé made us a lovely breakfast at their home. The fiancé was cooking French toast and stepped away for a moment, and my daughter mentioned to him to keep an eye on the food--he lashed out and nastily said, 'Don't boss me around!'  I felt that was uncalled for on his part. My daughter said nothing. He criticizes her a lot too. 

I understand that my criticism will drive her and him away. What can I do in a situation like this?

ANSWER

A criticism is generally nothing more than a poorly stated request.  Moreover, in every relationship, there is a subtext that only the people in the relationship are privy to.  Perhaps your daughter’s fiancé has asked her on numerous occasions to not correct or criticize him in front of people, particularly her family. Some version of this story is likely true. Clearly he felt bossed around by her, which is not to say that he expressed himself well or with class, but from what you’ve described, he could have done much worse.

Here’s the thing: Your daughter didn’t ‘say nothing.’ She could have kept her own eyes on the French toast, but she didn’t choose to do that. Her fiancé sounds like he was embarrassed by her remark. Or maybe he’s just an asshole and until she realizes that, there’s not much you can do.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: My suggestion to you is to try to view your relationship with your husband through the eyes and ears of a stranger (or a daughter) to see how you might be modeling the same level of tolerance for disrespect that your daughter is. There is no greater relationship teacher than our parents. Up your game in your marriage. If it’s significant enough, your daughter will notice and she just might follow suit.

Gender & Orientation: Female, Heterosexual.

SheTox: The Lesbian Detox

Dear Dr. Darcy: 

My girlfriend and I recently broke up after almost 2-years together. As much as I loved her, she was my first girlfriend and I just know that I need to play the field before I settle down.  

Long story short, she feels betrayed by my need to date other women. Aside from turning all our mutual friends against me (which is hurtful enough), she’s refusing to be friends. I feel so frustrated by her decision to cut me off because I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t cheat. I didn’t lie. And now I feel like I’m being punished. I was prepared to lose her as a ‘partner’ but losing my best friend feels unnecessarily cruel. Would you please give me/us your opinion?

ANSWER 

Good for you for not lying or cheating as so many would have. You did the right thing – for YOU.

Now she’s doing the right thing – for HER. You’re not being punished. This isn’t personal. The lesbian propensity to transition from long-term lovers to BFFs without so much as a breath in between is nothing short of delusional. It causes the person whose heart was broken to heal at the speed of snail mail, and it’s selfish on your part.

You ended the relationship. Period. You don’t get to keep the part of her that you still find useful and fulfilling. She’s a human being, and if you’re to be honest and even remotely objective, you’ll realize how unreasonable it is of you to expect her to move on while still remaining emotionally intimate with you.

You’ll get over losing your best friend. Probably a lot faster than she’ll get over losing the love of her life. And maybe one day you can be friends – but not today. And not next week. Give her a chance to rebound and let her reach out to you when she’s ready. That’s the kind thing to do. Right now, she needs a shetox from you.

Gender & Orientation: Female, Lesbian