The Hook Up: Too-close friendships and dating outside your race

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My partner and I have been together for a little over three years. Our relationship developed from an incredibly close friendship to more because she was there for me in a dark time and I for her. About a year ago she found a new best friend who is completely reliant on her in every way. My partner is the most loving, selfless, and caring person in the world and is happiest when giving to others. It is one of the things I love about her. But I can’t kick my jealousy.

No one ever teaches same-gender couples how to navigate close friendships. She recently found out some scary news from her family and didn’t tell me for a long time but told her best friend immediately. She sleeps there almost every night and when I try to be there for her she tells me she’ll only take out her frustration with me. I don’t know how this happened but I feel like I’ve lost her and that I am not her person anymore. Should I keep trying to win her back or step aside?—Sad Lady

Anna Says: Hey Sad Lady,

I’m not surprised you’re experiencing jealousy. I would too if my girlfriend slept at someone else’s house even one night a week, let alone most nights. Her excuse of not talking to you because she’s afraid of “taking her frustrations out on you” also seems like a flimsy excuse. While I can’t say for sure if the friendship in question is mostly about wanting consolation for her scary family news, it sure sounds like there are some less-than-healthy boundary issues present. And it kinda seems like she’s not telling you the whole truth about all her relationship entails.

There are, of course, reasonable requests a partner can make when it comes to platonic friendships—weekly Lost Girl viewing nights, a certain amount of late-night phone calls if she’s in post-breakup distress, helping her move even though she U-hauls every damn month, etc. But as her partner of three years, your feelings shouldn’t be forced to take a back seat. It’s one thing to be a caring person and to be a decent friend, but what your partner’s doing sounds more like codependency and manipulation, though on whose part I can’t say for sure. The new friend? Your girlfriend?

I’d gather that you’ve probably talked with your partner about your concerns a little, but it may be time to have a lengthy Real Talk, where you lay bare all that you said to me in your letter. Be vulnerable and unflinchingly honest, and if she reassures you that you are still “her person,” that your relationship is important to her, and your considerations honorable, then work together to start making some reasonable boundaries you can both agree on, like sleepovers, for starters. Seriously, why does she need to camp out at this girl’s house while you’re at home every night? I can’t get over that. Like, don’t take my little spoon, yo!

If she keeps reiterating the same excuses, however, dismissing your concerns, and keeping you at arm’s length, then it may be time to let her go.

I am a 32-year-old African-American, recently single from a five-year relationship, and I live in Arizona. I mostly identify as femme and have no problem dating more aggressive women or butches. My problem is, for lack of a better phrase or cliche, I don’t “look gay.” I also want to date outside my race and have not done this before.

I am about 5’4’’ and curvy. I think my lack of looking gay and being black will keep me from attracting women outside my race. I have done the bar scene years ago and am not a fan. I’ve done dating sites as well in the past and most recently, and nothing yet in two months. I am getting discouraged and it does not help that I am a bit shy as well. Any advice for femme-invisibility and dating outside your race?

Anna Says: I’m from Arizona—represent! But also you should probably leave Arizona. Shit is fucked there, unless maybe you’re in Flagstaff or Tucson, but even then. Oh, you mean you can’t, like, just hop on your saddle and ride into a more liberal sunset? There goes my whole column.

My real advice to you is probably going to seem similarly flippant, but I assure you it’s not. Before we start, I’ll say for the record that I’m pretty white (my mom is Latina and Native American, but I am, for all intents and purposes, possum-tail pink) so perhaps AfterEllen ROCs (readers of color) have more lived experiences and tips that I wouldn’t necessarily think of.

Pursue who you’re attracted to. There’s no magic bruja spell that will land you a Latina, no perfect sweater vest that’ll net you a caucasian, no tiny, jade slipper that will make you irresistible to Asians, and so on. (And no further sentences that won’t condemn me as a jerk to Serious Lesbians for joking about stereotypes.) This isn’t to say people aren’t influenced by racial beliefs or politics or prejudices, of course we are, but it is to say that a woman is a woman is a woman, and she should be treated as such regardless of race, income, religion, creed, or fondness for Creed. If you want to date outside your race, then do it. You may encounter a few jerks who’ll dismiss you for superficial reasons, but that’s dating everywhere and is to be (sadly) expected. I’ve been turned down because I didn’t like rock climbing, for instance, and once because I wasn’t a witch. LITTLE DID SHE KNOW.

There are, of course, interracial dating sites. Lots of them. Someone even reviewed 10 of them and posted the results. However, I’m not sure how LGBT-friendly they are, nor if they have big enough audiences to make it worth your while. If you’re inclined to experiment, I’d say have at it.

According to this infographic from interracialdating.com, California is the number one state for interracial dating. Arizona barely made the map, taking the number 20 spot, so not all hope is lost! Surprisingly, Alabama is number 15 on the list, even though they didn’t legalize miscegenation until 2000. 2000!

Tangents and infographics aside, I think you should pursue who you like and who you’re attracted to, regardless of race. You’re sick of bars, and you’re shy, so I’d stick with online dating for a little while longer (two months is not that long, respectively).

As a feminine-appearing person m’self, I’ll be the first to admit that not “looking gay” has been something I’ve struggled with forever, to varying degrees of neurotic, compulsive combat boot binges. But I can also safely say that being femme is no more a detriment to your love life than your race, because anyone who’d overlook you due to either isn’t worthy of your time anyway. (For more on the topic, read previous columns about femme invisibility here and here.)

In short, and to plagiarize myself, “Life surprises you, if you let it. Keep an open heart and an open mind and most importantly, keep being your confident, articulate self and you’ll attract a girl who will fall head over heels for you, whether you’re wearing heels or not.”

Be your best you and the best will follow. Good luck, lady.

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