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Dear Christine, Reeling in Romulus

| April 2, 2017

Dear Christine,

Some background first: I am a 56 year old lesbian and wanted to gain some more friendships, just to hang or go out to eat or movies. I’m a social worker and had been friendly with one of the housekeepers at our facility, she is 48. Back in Jan of this year I asked her if she would like to get together outside of work and see a movie. She accepted, and the first thing that came out of her mouth when I picked her up was that she was a lesbian. I have been open with my coworkers that I am a lesbian but had no idea that she knew this and she has not shared the fact she is a lesbian with anyone other than her daughter and mother. She has never been in a relationship with a woman before. After the movie she came back to my home and we talked for over 2 hours about being a lesbian and accepting oneself.

She and I became close friends after this and spent quite a bit of time together. This eventually led to us having a sexual relationship. Over the last three months I have found myself falling very hard for her. She has told me that she loves me but doesn’t believe she will ever be in love with someone again,( she had horrendous relationship with the father of her daughter.) She has also made statements that she will like to date other women.

My confusion comes with her mixed messagesfor the last 3 months we either see each other every day she will come to my home or I will go to hers or she will call me on the phone. We do things together, talk, and also have sex at least 2 or more times per week. Our sexual relationship is wonderful and she tells me how much I spoil her for others and make her feel comfortable and sexy. She sure acts like she may be in love with me but with what she said about not falling in love or at some point wanting to date other women should I pull back or hope her feelings change.

Thank you for any insights you have,

Reeling in Romulus

Dear Reeling,

I feel for your pain, falling for someone who is a newbie and who’s caring for you doesn’t match the depth of your feelings for her. It’s an awful situation for you to be in. You have to keep going back to what she has told you clearly. She has never been in a relationship with another woman before and has only told her mother and daughter about her attraction to women. She also believes that she will never love again, but also wants to date other women. To top it off, you work together, so you see each other every day whether you need some space or not! She may be giving you mixed messages by seeing you regularly outside of work for long conversations and romantic interludes, but you are making it very easy for you to hear mixed messages from her. You both are each other’s default significant other, and it’s easier to keep doing what you are doing together, as it feels pretty good for each of you, even though it’s not what either of you want long term.

I’m a firm believer in respecting what another tells us and perhaps having a discussion about what I think they mean vs what they are intending with their words and actions. You can only press her for clarity and consistency, but if she continues to respond to you, but not volunteer her heart, you have a one sided relationship. You don’t get to choose whether or not she falls in love with you, or what or when she tells other people close to her about her relationship (with you or any woman). You don’t get to decide her timing. You just get to ask her to be clear about her intentions, and you have to be clear about your needs and nonnegotiables, and then take care of yourself. If it’s nonnegotiable to be in a relationship with someone who will not express verbally being in love with you and wants to date other women, then you have your answer. Your job is to take care of your needs, not hers. Her needs are her job to meet, not yours. If the sun, the moon and the stars all line up, and she falls in love with you and loses her desire to experience dating others, great! If a couple of planets keep falling out of line, play attention to that.

I’d liken the experience to living in a house that is up for sale. You never know when a buyer may come through, and you have to have the house look clean and good for a showing, and you have to get out of the way. The potential buyers come and go, and you wonder how long you can live under the strain of not having the stability to live as you choose, rather than try to meet others’ expectations. A friend of mine lived in her rental house that the landlord put up for sale for 6 months. At first, the friend thought it was great, till she realized she was only able to live day to day, and could not plan on where she would be living next month, much less next year. She was about to request a year’s lease or 30 days notice when the right buyers closed the deal and she had to move out.

Sometimes it’s easier to live according to other people’s boundaries and then there comes a time when you know you need to have the clarity of your own boundaries. Sounds like you know what you need to do. It’s hard to pull back when you have strong feelings, and particularly when you both work together, but you have to focus on your needs, not wants, not on what is easiest, but what you need. I find it easier to leave a relationship when I’m angry, as anger gives me energy. Just leaving because it’s not what we both want, but we both enjoy it is much harder. Focus on you. Know who you are and know what you need, and then go in that direction. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

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