Lezzies Advice Column 9
for Lesbians On The Loose
Online Magazine in Australia:
Question: My new GF talks about her ex ALL THE TIME. What should I do?
I'm seeing a new girl and she is beautiful and we have many
things in common. One thing she does that bugs me is talk about her ex all the
time. I mean ALL THE TIME. They only broke up three months ago, but the ex seems
to be a reference point for everything, from who's best in The L Word, to how
many carbs you should eat. I don't want to say anything in case she thinks I'm
jealous, possessive, fragile or even care. But I do inwardly. What if she's still
in love with the ex and using me to move on? Because I don't think they would
ever get back together. The breakup was acrimonious and the ex has moved in with
another girl now.
I know that you are holding back and not wanting to say anything
to your girlfriend about her obsessive talk about her ex, but that is exactly
what you need to do. I certainly know it is easier said than done. I understand
you have fears about how she will see you if you do say something, but you are
paying an unhealthy price, and setting up a pattern of not voicing what you need
because you are concerned about what she will think or do.
There is no
way to tell if you are a rebound relationship for this woman, if she is still
in love with the ex (even though the breakup was acrimonious) or a combination
of the two. There is the possibility that your girlfriend has little self-esteem
and got her identity from her ex, or it could be that she was very isolated in
that relationship and has very few friends. She may be attempting to make sense
of this past relationship by talking about it, but from your description of the
ex being a reference point for everything I would guess this is not
From what you wrote, One thing she does that bugs me
is talk about her ex all the time. I mean ALL THE TIME, it sounds as if
you have an extra person in your relationship, and that your girlfriends
primary relationship is still with her ex. No matter how much you like and care
for your girlfriend, or how much you have in common, there is only room in your
relationship for two people. For those who are polyamorous, I would say the same
in this type of situation. When you start a new relationship with someone who
talks incessantly about her ex, the old relationship is still in the other persons
heart and head.
I hope you arent considering that you may be able
to help your girlfriend get over her ex. That is not your job, nor is it something
that you can do. You cant build a new relationship with someone while you
are attempting to support her through the lost love, grief, anger, guilt, shame
or whatever emotions she is carrying from that experience. It puts a burden on
you, and then you end up working hard to make sure you are the opposite of how
the ex was in some ways, and proving you can be just as good in others. This is
unhealthy for both of you.
The hard part is that after a breakup, many
of us jump into another relationship before we are emotionally ready to handle
it. If we start a relationship too soon after a breakup, we then carry the baggage
of the last relationship into the new one. Some of this you are experiencing now.
It may also move into her comparing you and your relationship to her old one and
While you are in the beginning of the relationship, the comparisons
might not come up at all. After a while it can turn into statements like, Youre
trying to control me just like So-N-So used to do! or So-N-So
used to (fill in the blank), and now you are doing it too. It may be that
you arent doing whatever it was, but in the other persons mind there
is a connection, and you cant convince her it doesnt exist.
It is best to give ourselves time to heal from the last relationship before entering
into another. There is no set time period or pattern for grieving any loss. There
are different grieving styles for each person. Some may be able to grieve on their
own, and some may need counseling to get through the process. Friends can be a
great resource. If they say they feel like you need help, you probably do. If
they see you stuck and struggling, they can tell you. A good friend will tell
you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
The main thing
in this situation, beyond all of the above, is what do you want? You said, I
don't want to say anything in case she thinks I'm jealous, possessive, fragile
or even care. But I do inwardly. What makes your feelings so unimportant
that they are on the back burner? It is normal to be resentful that you want to
be her focus when you are together (in person or on the phone), but instead the
focus is her ex. What makes your feelings less important, and why do you discount
your feelings? Is this a pattern of yours in relationships, and if it is where
does this pattern come from? How do you catch yourself doing this pattern, and
what flags do you need to pay attention to that will help you make changes for
a healthier way of being? These are things to ask yourself.
for you is what makes it alright to be compared to her ex over and over at every
meeting you have? If you are thinking, she isnt comparing me to her
ex you are wrong. She may not be consciously saying she did this and you
do that, but that is the implication. She is letting you know every time she talks
about her ex what measuring stick you are being compared to. If you dont
agree with the best character on The L Word or how many carbs that
someone should eat a day, then you are not measuring up. You said yourself; the
ex seems to be a reference point for everything.
to mean the measuring stick against which all else is compared. You deserve to
have someone who cares for you because of who you are, not on what you agree with
or dont agree with compared to your girlfriends ex. You deserve to
voice your concerns about the fact that what your new girlfriend is doing is getting
in the way of your relationship and your ability to feel close to her. It is better
to stand up for yourself now, at three months, then to let this emotional pain
you are feeling continue. If what you are feeling goes unsaid, it can cause resentment.
That can create a situation where she resents you for not being more like her
ex, and you resent her for walking all over you. The reality would be that you
allowed her to do that since we teach people how to treat us.
thoughts are full of their ex, there is little or no room for anyone else in her
heart. You deserve to have a relationship where your love interest is 100% present.
Im not saying that you cant have a future together, or that you should
break up with her. I cant know that. I am saying you cant have the
type of future you want to share with her if she hasnt found peace from
her last relationship.
What can you do about this? You can have a talk
with her, and let her know how you feel. You could say something like: I
truly care about you, and Id like to see what can grow between us, but I
dont feel we have a fair chance when you are still emotionally involved
(even though the woman is not physically in the picture) with your ex. You
can also say something like, I would love to see what would develop between
us, but I feel you need time to mend your heart from your breakup. I would
suggest setting a time limit in your own mind, say one to three months, on how
long you are willing to give her to make changes or get help with this. If there
have been no significant changes within that period of time, then you may need
to end your relationship, or ask her to join you in couples therapy to work
through the issues.
If she understands and wants to work to heal herself
and then get back together with you, keep dating while she sees a therapist, or
joins a support group for women going through break ups while you two slow things
down considerably, that is one thing. If she gets upset with you and says she
needs to think about it, that is OK too. If she gets angry and hostile toward
you that is also alright. She may get angry, think about it, and then come back
and tell you there is validity to what you have to say. No matter what her response,
it is where she is, and each reaction tells you where she is in her process.
Where she is in her process is not right or wrong since it is her process.
It is not where you have to be, and it is not healthy to join her if her heart
isnt open to you because it is still with someone else. It is better to
find out how she feels and reacts now, rather than to have this drag out, and
discover that this was a relationship you wished you had gotten out of
Wishing you the best,
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