oming up with clear answers when people ask questions about heterosexual breakups is hard enough. Add gender issues and it just gets a lot harder. Intimate relationships and they way they play out remains the most irrational aspect of a person’s life — though you wouldn’t know it based on the volume of social media chatter regarding sexual choices. But here’s the thing: Very few people ever tell the whole truth online, whether about their private lives or where they stand on the LGBT debate. Exaggeration is the norm. Like racism, sexual prejudice can do a good job pretending it doesn’t exist. All of which leads me to this exchange.
Q: I’m 27 and I’ve been living with my girlfriend for a year. We met at work, dated, and slowly took our relationship to the next level. Honestly, I like virtually everything about her. The only elephant in the room was our sex life, especially after she moved in with me. Things seem to lose their intensity and she seemed to lose her drive. I asked her about it but she’d always deflect the subject to work and tiredness and the difference between dating and being in the same apartment.
I bought this for several months until she really started being distant in bed, to the point that I started thinking the obvious: another guy. So again, I asked her. She didn’t say a word that night but the next night she brought it up on her own. She said yes, there was someone else: a female coworker. Our bedroom got very quiet at that moment, because that one came at me from out of the blue.
She cried and explained she didn’t know what to say. I didn’t either, and don’t. I said I’d leave but she doesn’t want me to. Suggestions?
A: Still waters run deep. Sexual waters are murky and run ever deeper. My first response is to say, Give her some time. If she wanted you to leave to begin something different with her new lover, that would have come in the form of a clearer signal, or at least a more decisive one. Right now, she may really and truly be confused. When your sexual interests take a different turn, the whole can sometimes leave you excited, yes, but reeling. Deepening on your upbringing, it can contradict all you’ve been taught – and never mind social open-mindedness.
The two of you might want to take a break from each other so she can better understand what she wants, and you can process what’s happened. It’s easy to say: no biggie, my girlfriend just came out. But it is a biggie, for the both of you. And there’s also no way of knowing if it’s a coming out or an infatuation (which comes without gender tags). You don’t sound mad, which is a good thing since anger doesn’t really help anyone when things are out there and the people involved can talk, and it seems the two of you still can.
Keep talking, and listen. Don’t run away and hide, not if you have genuine feelings. Hard as it may be, try playing friend and confidant until you know for sure where this is headed. Don’t gossip. Don’t share. Please don’t try finding out who her lover is, a natural response but one best checked at the door. Keep this between the two of you until you’re both clearer, she in terms of her new relationship, you in terms of the relationship you want to have with her going forward.