June 15, 2011
Female (Age 47)
Q: I am a gay woman and I am out to most people that I associate with socially or at work. So I have no fear of people knowing about me. My problem is that historically I have only fallen for straight women. I was involved in several lesbian relationships during college and young adulthood. I am in love with a straight woman and have been seeing her for the past 9 years. Although, she has made it clear to me that she is straight and wants to either be with a man or marry a man in the future. What would keep me hanging on to this relationship that is going nowhere? What could be the reason for mainly being attracted to and going after straight women. I desperately want to change this pattern of behavior.
A: Dear Hanging On,
Really, you have been in a relationship with a woman for 9 years and she claims she is straight. Really? People don’t spend 9 years in a relationship because it’s not where they want to be. And that includes you. If you really didn’t want to be there, you wouldn’t be.
This sounds like an issue of honesty, self acceptance and intimacy. Staying with someone that is telling you they are leaving creates huge barriers to intimacy. How close can you get? Not very. And that is the same with being attracted to straight women; it prevents intimacy.
You need to look at your role and what you truly want. Do you want to be close and intimate, or do you want to be holding back and have the illusion of safety? It is an illusion, because if you end a 9 year relationship, it will be painful. Relationships require honesty on every level. Start with your own. Do you like the distance this creates? Do you need to be living in a situation where there is limited safety? This would be a good time for you to examine what you want and what you are willing to do to get it.
As far as your 9 year partner goes, she has her own denial going on. There is nothing you can do about that. Maybe it’s the perfect relationship. Maybe in 9 years you want more. Take care of your side of the street. Get real about what you want your life to look like and then go for it. Relationships are scary. To have a great relationship you have to take risks. You have a lot to gain by examining these questions. If you don’t want to go there, accept what you have and stop trying to change her. If that’s what she needs to say and believe, let her. If you need a different kind of partner decide what that would look like and see if you can get it with her. If not, cast a bigger net and find what you want. This is a great chance to grow. And you will always benefit from personal grown. Good luck, look deep and get real and honest.