Lesbianing with AE! Dealing with breakup boundaries

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 Today on Lesbianing with AE!  Lindsey Danis answers reader questions about navigating boundaries after a breakup.

I really need some help. I broke up with my longterm girlfriend about 6 months ago. Long story short: We moved in together, things were great and then they weren’t, I realized I didn’t love her anymore. We live in a medium sized city, and we shared a circle of friends. They were my friends first, then they grew to know and love my ex, and now they’re all like “I’m not taking sides, I still want to be both of your friends.” Sounds fine and good, but in the breakup I agreed to something I’m second guessing now. My ex wanted to set boundaries on who could go where or hang out with who. Like, she wanted to be able to go to the pop-up gay bar events in our town and said I could go to some other weekly event. For parties and stuff, she said we should text about who is going to go (like, she doesn’t want to go to someone’s birthday party, dinner party, whatever, if I’m going to be there and she doesn’t want to run into me at social events). I agreed to this during the breakup our of sympathy, but I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have on my social life. My friends are sympathetic but don’t want to take sides. I’ve heard my ex is trying to date, but she won’t give up these artificial rules. What should I do?

-Left Out Lesbian

Getty Images

Getty Images

Dear LOL,

When you’re breaking up with someone, it’s only natural to feel bad about it and to try to lessen the impact on the other person. In trying to make your ex feel better, you agreed to some things that are now making you feel bad. You don’t deserve to live in pain or get left out because this relationship didn’t work out.

Bottom line: Your ex doesn’t get to set all the rules any more, but you can still negotiate the boundaries like the mindful, good-hearted person I’m sure you are. Be the change you wish to see in the lesbian dating community!

I wonder if your friends are aware of the full extent of the problem. Is your ex telling them a different story over why she can’t make it to the lesbian dance party the night you’re going out? Are you being honest with them about how you want to accept their invite, but are honor bound to let your ex go instead? Have you even told them the whole ridiculous story (cuz that’s what it is, ridiculous. Name the problem!)?

Get real with your closest friends. Let them know you want to change things. Your friends might have some input into how your ex is thinking/feeling/acting that you don’t have (unless, you know, you’re stalking on social media and you do know exactly how she’s coping). They can also back you up socially by reminding the ex that you have a right to be there, or being there for you if you’re dropping by a social thing your ex claimed in the breakup. Your ex ostracized you in the lesbian community, and now you need to call on that community to have your back as you reclaim space you gave up in the breakup. 

“Your ex ostracized you in the lesbian community, and now you need to call on that community to have your back as you reclaim space you gave up in the breakup.”

You’re still operating on an assumption from the breakup. People say and do all kinds of crazy things when they’re getting dumped (I’m sure you are guilty of some things you now regret). For all you know, your ex has moved on and won’t feel as threatened now by sharing space with you as she did 6 months ago. Or maybe she only said that when you broke up, but didn’t really mean it and was too ashamed/embarrassed/heartbroken to tell you she had a change of heart. Or maybe she does really mean it, and she keeps a dartboard at home with your face tacked to the bullseye and journals by himalayan salt lamp about how you are a terrible person. Who can say?

The only way for you to find out where she’s at is to talk to other people that keep in touch with her or talk to her. Keep it simple and clear, like, “I hope you’re doing well. Meg’s activist potluck is coming up and I’d really like to go too. it’s been 6 months – I’d like to revisit our breakup rules and find ways for us both to attend stuff with our friends.”

Getty Images

Getty Images

Assuming she’s open to renegotiating things, have a text convo about it or even meet up for coffee. Talk about where you’re each at, where she needs space, and how the status quo is making you suffer. Hopefully you can come to some sort of agreement that’s good for everyone.

But honestly? If she’s still wallowing and not at all amenable to sharing space with you, you get to decide what your next move should be. You gave her space and time — 6 months — but you didn’t owe her that, and you don’t need to keep honoring it because you feel bad.

If she won’t budge, you can always issue an ultimatum — “I’m going to Meg’s activist potluck. I’ll be there at 8.” Then she can decide on her own if she wants to go early and leave before you get there or make other plans for the night and avoid laying eyes on you. If she whines about it, tell her in your own words that you get that she’s hurt, but you need to live your life and it’s been 6 months. Let her know she can’t expect to ban you from lesbian life in your town indefinitely. You’re not only doing yourself a favor, you’re doing all the other lesbians your ex will eventually date a favor by helping her get over her immature and entitled behavior.

Then, if you run into her around town, be polite and friendly. Smile, wave, maybe go say hi. It’s going to be hard for her at first, but she will get used to seeing you. And eventually, she’ll get over it or shift her entitled behavior. Maybe she’ll even more to another town!

“You’re not only doing yourself a favor, you’re doing all the other lesbians your ex will eventually date a favor by helping her get over her immature and entitled behavior.”

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