Dear Christine, A Wreck in Warren

Dear Christine:

came out late, bad 5 yr relationship and now in a very good one. Prob is she is still very connected with her ex. They text/talk every day, a lot. The ex will come and spend a weekend. She is very needy and always has drama in her life. She is not out to friends/family or coworkers. I am not handling this very well. My new lady is a rescuer. She likes being needed. I do not need rescuing or saving. I feel like I am being displaced by her. hate this. A wreck in Warren

Dear Wreck,

At first glance I thought I read that you are in a bad relationship, but I see the “bad one” was 5 years prior to the good one you are in now. I guess I wonder how good this current relationship is. How did you end up with a partner who is needy and loves to rescue and save others? What brings you together? What keeps you together? First of all, you can’t change someone else’s nature, priorities or personality. The most prominent thing you have revealed about your current partner is that she is “needy and always has drama in her life.” It’s no surprise that she is still connected to her ex, texting, talking and visiting regularly. And the drama only increases that she is not out to others: only you and her ex, it sounds like!

So, talk to your partner about your perceptions and feelings, needs and wants. Then listen to her response. Really listen, asking questions for clarification, to make sure you understand her, and ask her to reflect back what you’re saying, so you know she heard your feelings and concerns, even if she doesn’t share them.

After you each have heard each other out, then is the time to make a request, if there is one. If it is what you need, you can tell her, for example, “I need less drama and more support for us as a couple. I think it might help if you to come out to your family” or “I need less drama in our life together.” Or, “I am not comfortable that your ex is so much a part of your life, and our life together. Would you spend less time with her and more with me?” Or whatever your request for a behavior change might be. If she says “no” then hear that. Then, the two of you talk it out to figure out what works best for both of you. I have watched lesbian couples try to accommodate one remaining best friends with her ex, while the new partner fumes at feeling left out. If your partner insisted on being close with her ex even as you and she became committed to each other, then at least she was up front with her needs. You don’t have to like the ex being in her life, but you may have to accept the situation, or you may need to leave. If you don’t communicate well, try some couple’s counseling. I find most people don’t learn to communicate their needs and feelings in their families, and negotiation skills can always be honed. Couple’s therapy is a great place to learn how to do both of those. Good luck. Christine

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