But I want to have fun, too!
June 25, 2008 8:25 AM   Subscribe

GirlfriendFilter: I'm here, she's there. She's out having fun and I'm not. How do I stop feeling jealous?

I'm 21 (female), she's 22. We've been dating for 2.5 years and we met in college. We live together right now and we're happy. Here is the situation. Since she is technically a straight girl, she doesn't want to tell people that we're together because she doesn't want to explain that, yes she's with a girl right now, but I'm the only female she's ever been attracted to. So as a result, no one knows that we're together. We literally pretend that we are just friends. This poses problems for me because I get jealous when guys try to pick her up and I can't speak up and say "hey, that's mine!" She is an attractive woman and could easily find a male that she likes, but she is happy with me.

This summer, like the summers before, I have to come back to my hometown to work at a job that could potentially be my career. It takes a while for me to get on payroll and I'm still pretty broke. Meanwhile, she stays at our apartment to work at her job. She recently got a slight promotion in another department and has started hanging out with new people that I've never met. She has a great time. There is also another friend that I actually know and they go do things together as well.

Like I said, I'm pretty broke and having no money in NYC and virtually no friends (that's a whole 'nother issue I was working on with my therapist) means nothing to do. I'm staying with a relative who is never home so I spend a lot of time alone there too.

So my problem is this: whenever I hear that she's going out with friends, I get really jealous/anxious/depressed. It makes me feel like she never has that much fun when she's with me, I haven't done anything fun since summer started, and it reiterates the point that I have no friends. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that she's out doing things and she does call when she remembers but we've been away from each other for five weeks so far and I miss her terribly.

I know these are all selfish feelings and I need help getting over them and find happiness in the fact that she's not sitting in our apartment worrying about me. And I need to go find something to do.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think for starters you need to insist that she go public about the nature of her relationship with you, and if she won't, break up with her. That's a terrible way to treat anyone and you shouldn't tolerate it. You're a person, not a dirty little secret.

Once that issue is dealt with, I think you'll have fewer problems concentrating on making some friends and having some fun on your own. Right now she's basically posing as a single person when she goes out, and of course that bothers you and makes you insecure.
posted by orange swan at 8:36 AM on June 25, 2008 [8 favorites]

Since she is technically a straight girl, she doesn't want to tell people that we're together because she doesn't want to explain that, yes she's with a girl right now, but I'm the only female she's ever been attracted to.

Red flag! You're dating a user - and a closet case - who has essentially told you that you are a temporary dalliance that she doesn't want the world to know about. This is wreaking havoc on your self-esteem, which is compounding your jealousy. I'd say the problem is a bit deeper than her having fun on her own.
posted by googly at 8:39 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sounds more like envy than necessarily jealousy. You may be creating a problem out of perception. Deconstruct your feelings. The first thing you need to do is require more of yourself. Quit worrying about what your girlfriend has. Instead, get up every day and focus on the things that you are thankful for. Focus on the gifts that you've been given. Focus on the talents you have, the people who are in your life, the opportunities that are before you. Spend enough time thinking about it every day, so that it outweighs the amount of time you spend thinking about the negatives.

You know it will get better, as soon as your job kicks in, when your thinking turns around. I'm a firm believer in gratitude lists. Take some time each day to jot down the little things you are grateful for. You'll be surprised, within a week you will have dozens of positive motivations and inspirations. Don't give up. It will get better.
posted by netbros at 8:52 AM on June 25, 2008

I know these are all selfish feelings and I need help getting over them and find happiness in the fact that she's not sitting in our apartment worrying about me. And I need to go find something to do.

Oh Lord, these are not selfish feelings. You are dating a girl who does not really care about you the way you care about her. She isn't "technically" a straight girl trying to pretend to be a lesbian. What she really is is a person who loves playing games, loves receiving random attention from people, and loves not being "tied" down while still getting the emotional support she wants at home. You want a relationship with someone who'll actually take a chance and a risk to stand up on a chair and shout with abandon that you are worth being with and that you are publically "claimed". Holy hell, this is not selfish and unreasonable. This is exactly what everyone deserves.

I know a lot of women who, in their lives, tend to enjoy creating drama in their relationships when their lives, and their minds, are underutilized and underemployed. You, however, are not in that kind of a situation. It is great that she is out living her life and isn't attached to the hip with you but, for crying out loud, anyone, no matter the sex, would feel depressed and anxious if their S.O. kept playing this game of not being public attached to them.

Dump her, kick her ass out of the apartment and keep working on finding the friends and hobbies and things that will keep improving your life and making you into the person you want to be. Your current "girlfriend" is ridiculous and should not be a part of your life.
posted by Stynxno at 8:53 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

You've got some separate issues here that are reinforcing each other.

1. Long distance relationship
2. Being alone too much
3. Jealousy
4. She doesn't acknowledge your relationship to others

If it weren't for #4, I'd just be saying hang it there, it's only the summer even though it feels like forever. I've done long distance and it's super difficult, but you can get through it. It helps to set dates & times when you know you'll talk, and stick to them - it gives you something to look forward to, and helps chase away any irrational fears you may be having. #2 may not be easily remedied, but it's temporary and again, you can get through this time. Etc.

But #4... You say you've been together for 2.5 years. At what point is this girl going to start telling people she's with you? She's had long enough to work her head around the (sometimes difficult and confusing) sexuality issues that being with another girl evidently brings up for her (and I don't blame her for that, that's very normal and understandable). At some point, it doesn't matter if she considers herself straight or not, defending her own definition of her sexuality against people's assumptions should be less important than your feelings. If she's not ready to come out to her folks or whatever, maybe that's understandable (you've told us nothing about her background), but she shouldn't be continuing to let her friends think she's single, and she shouldn't be asking you to pretend that your relationship is something it's not. You have a legitimate beef there.

How to solve this? As always, communication is key. She needs to know that this situation is difficult for you, and she needs to help you bear up under the strain. I'm not sure that when you're apart is a good time to bring up major relationship issues (these are always way easier to solve in person, and the strain of being apart can cause you to overstate your position which can lead to further problems, so you might consider saving the "stop asking me to act like we're just friends" conversation until the autumn), but at a minimum you need to talk to her about how lonely/depressed/anxious you feel, and ask her to help you with it. If she knew you felt this way, surely she'd be more assiduous about calling/texting/emailing/whatever. (And if not, DTMFA.)
posted by joannemerriam at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2008

If she's not willing to call you her girlfriend after 2.5 years, DTMFA.

I could understand maybe having a hard time with parents, but with friends?

Girlfriend - "Hey, this is my girlfriend, A"
Friend -"Oh, nice to meet you, A. Hey G, I thought you liked dudes?"
G - "You know, I do, but there's just something about A. I'm completely head over heels for her. No other woman or even man makes me feel like she does!"
F - "Wow, that's great! I'm so happy for you!"

That's all it would take. She's not willing to do that for you after years, so you need to get her out of your life. I hate to say it, but she's not a closet lesbian, she's a closet L.U.G., and she will be dumping you around graduation anyway when she declares that you were "just a phase."
posted by explosion at 9:04 AM on June 25, 2008

I am pretty much in your exact situation--only on your girlfriend's side.

About two years ago me and my boyfriend started dating. Except there was a catch: previous to him, I was a out lesbian. Out-out. Never been with a guy. The only man I ever kissed was the catalyst to me coming out. I was originally planning on just quietly hooking up with him once or twice as an experiment, and then going back to ladies as usual, but you know, then I started liking the guy as more thana friend. And it was huge to me. All of my friends knew me as a lesbian. My family knew me as a lesbian. I was unashamed and unrepentant of being a lesbian. Becoming involved with a man, and realizing I wanted to be seriously involved with a man, felt like it was challenging my entire life. I was terrified as being thought of as a fake, a poseur, a self-hating homosexual (and I still deal with those things). I didn't want people to think of me as straight or bisexual, because he was the only man I've ever been really attracted to. I was scared of changing that part of myself. I was scared of what everyone else woudl thing. For the first month or two, we kept it secret.

But I admitted to it. We probably could have kept it up a lot longer. I could have been more careful, I could have brushed him off more often, I could have dumped him as soon as I thought our friends were suspicious and maintained my "rep". But I didn't because he is a wonderful person, I really did like him, and that is not the sort of thing you do to wonderful people you really like. And now, two years down the road, now that I truly love him, it is not something I would even consider doing. Because hiding and sneaking around is not something you do to someone you truly respect and love, someone you are truly proud of. I really do understand what your girlfriend is going through, and frankly I bet it is worse for me as the idea of a straight girl picking up a girlfriend here and there is almost welcomed as proof of her openness, where a lesbian getting a boyfriend is only proof that she wasn't really into women in the first place, or, at worst, proof that lesbians only need the right guy to come along to "fix" them.

The guy still has insecurities about my interest in women and it's something I try to reassure him about. I can't imagine how neurotic he'd be if he were in your position and after two years I was still trying to keep everyone in the dark about us.

What your girlfriend is doing is understandable, but ultimately selfish and shows that there are some serious fissures in your relationship. It is not something you do to someone you love and are happy about dating. You should not be putting up with this bullshit. You need an ultimatum--she owns up to you guys dating, or you get out. This may be hard, because you will probably initially feel even more isolated, but in order to have the confidence to make new friends and lovers you gotta have the confidence to do this. You are better than this. You deserve better than this. You do!
posted by schroedinger at 9:06 AM on June 25, 2008 [14 favorites]

I think for starters you need to insist that she go public about the nature of her relationship with you, and if she won't, break up with her. That's a terrible way to treat anyone and you shouldn't tolerate it. You're a person, not a dirty little secret.

Damn straight. If she cares about you enough to be with you for 2.5 years, she should care about you enough to deal with some mildly awkward explanations about your relationship (when appropriate of course, it's obviously not a conversation to have with everyone you meet).

Resolving that might help you feel more secure/less jealous about the other aspects of your relationship.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2008

What schroedinger said. I get that she probably feels that it's confusing and awkward to come out of the closet. But she doesn't need to line up for her toaster and tattoo a rainbow flag on her forehead, she just needs to acknowledge her present long-term relationship.

As it stands, she's playing it both ways -- she has her loyal girlfriend waiting for her at home AND she gets to trip the light fantastic like she's a single girl. She should be more considerate of your feelings.
posted by desuetude at 9:22 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Schroedinger, great answer!! Very interesting to read and think about your story. Goes to show that you have to be true to your feelings, no matter what they are or the consequences. I hope the OP takes what you said to heart. Glad that you are happy in love!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure I understand what makes her 'technically' straight. Straight people don't have long-term relationships with the same gender, as you two are having -- either she's straight or she's bi or she's lez. Did you mean that she's keeping a facade of straightness?

With that aside, nthing popular thought: if she hasn't come out to show you she cares, then it's probably not going to happen. Threatening dissolution of the relationship might set her priorities straight (so-to-speak); if it doesn't, it's her loss, not yours.
posted by spamguy at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2008

We live together right now and we're happy

You're not happy, judging by this post. You're not even comfortable.

Since she is technically a straight girl, she doesn't want to tell people that we're together because she doesn't want to explain that, yes she's with a girl right now

If she loved you, she would put your feelings first. As it is, she is putting your feelings dead last.

If she loved you, she would be giddily telling friends about those cute things you do.

If she loved you, she'd want people to know you're in a relationship and that you are hers, all hers and no one else's.

If she loved you she'd want to share you with her friends and share her friends with you.

If she loved you...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Read Savage Love, archives too.

What? Money is not an obstacle to making friends. Of course, they will likely be straight friends if you can't afford gay bars. But many people in NYC do inexpensive stuff. Picnics are nice.

She calls you. She answers your calls. Great! Ain't much else possible. Don't worry too much about googly or orange swan's general relationship criticism just yet. Yes, your bi-girl likely wants kids plus husband eventually. But you can't constructively address this while long distance. Do try getting her to accept that there is a difference between telling close friends and telling the world, but wait till you're living together again.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2008

She's playing games with you. Tell her that your relationship needs to be public, or DTMFA.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:02 AM on June 25, 2008

Because hiding and sneaking around is not something you do to someone you truly respect and love, someone you are truly proud of.

Yeah, this. A lot.

You deserve better. You deserve someone who, if they won't shout it from rooftops, will at least introduce you to their friends as "my schmoopy" or whatever your chosen term of endearment is.

Being closeted because you're afraid your parents will kick you out or cut you off is poisonous enough. But being kept in the closet by your lover? Don't do that. Don't let her do that to you. I can't imagine how that isn't contributing (at least psychologically) to your sense of isolation. It's certainly contributing to your sense of insecurity and jealousy - and those, at least, are normal reactions to an incredibly unhealthy situation.

Your feelings are not selfish. They are not petty. They are not of no consequence. But your "girlfriend" has, for the last 2.5 years, helped teach you that they are by keeping your relationship a secret. She has helped teach you that her need to be seen as a straight single girl is more important than your need to be in a healthy, loving relationship.

I know you love her. But she doesn't love you. Someone who loves you doesn't behave this way (for two years!!). For your health and sanity, you need to break up.
posted by rtha at 10:07 AM on June 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

Get the hell out of the house. I know you're working with a therapist, but this is the kind of thing that works when you do it, vs. talk about it. Get up. Walk out of the house. Get on the train. Go somewhere. If you need ideas about where to go, pick up a TimeOut NYC and look there, or ask around at work.

Or, pack some snacks and a book. Go to Union Square. There are bathrooms in Barnes & Noble and Circuit City, and free water in the Starbucks in B& N. Hang around and see what people are up to. Hop on the L to Bedford St. Or the R to Cattyshack.

Walk around. Exercise and GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE will make you feel 10x better.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:08 AM on June 25, 2008

More context to previous comment:

I was you. A woman who had identified as gay all her life began dating me, a straight guy. She was very worried about what her lesbian circle would say, they were her life, the only close friends she had. She wondered about it for about a month, going back and forth, agonizing over if she would have choose, who would she choose if forced, what her family what say, etc, etc..

She tells her friends after about month and they're "Oh yeah, we kinda figured. You're not around as much anymore and when you are, he always comes up in conversation. You're happy right? Well then, when do we get to meet him?"

So to repeat: When someone loves you, they don't keep you in the closet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Everyone else has had good things to say about the fact that your partner won't acknowledge you publicly.

Two more things to think about:
- You're fairly young, and have been together for a long time relative to your ages. People change a lot at this stage of life and it's good to allow yourselves the freedom to grow in whatever direction you're heading. Don't hang on to this relationship as a default, or just from a sense of how much time you've invested -- you're young, there are many great partners out there, and if it's time to break up now, that doesn't mean this relationship was a waste of time. It might have been a very good relationship, but still one that is drawing to a close because you and she are changing, wanting to hang out with other people who fit with different aspects of your personalities, etc.

- Regardless of the situation with the gf, you need to find get out in the world, see othe humans, find things to do that make you happy where you are now! So: get a copy of TimeOut NY and look for free events that sound interesting. Think of one hobby that you might like to pursue in more depth (political action? knitting? book club? frisbee? art? movies?...) and find a place in NY where people gather to do that. A beginner's running class. Learn to fix bikes. Who knows. Maybe if you can get a mod to post one of your interests here, New Yorkers could chime in with suggestions for where to find a drop-in gathering. Maybe pick a neighborhood cafe and become a regular there. These won't lead to instant friends -- making friends is tougher outside of college, and when you move to a new place, and especially in NYC since everyone's so busy -- so it's not you. It's a tough situation. But the only solution is to make a determined effort to get out there, pick something that interests you and go start doing things. You might check through the archive here to find other posts that ask about how to make friends (even, in NYC).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:50 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Keeping a relationship a secret is something you do in middle school when you don’t want your friends to think you have koodies.
And even then it’s cruel and feels wrong.

Find a cute girl in NYC to have fun with, one who will admit she likes you. Like a grown up.
posted by French Fry at 9:55 AM on June 26, 2008

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