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How Important is a Recognition by Others?

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  • #113052
    Priscilla
    Participant

    I’m in a long term same-sex relationship (if nothing goes wrong, next year we’ll celebrate our 10-year anniversary). I would say our relationship is relatively healthy. With the exception that we’re both female, we actually live a pretty boring existence (dinner dates, annual vacations, movie nights, saving up to buy a house, etc).

    I would say I’m generally happy. Some days, though, I could really get depressed. It comes in waves and with seemingly nothing as a trigger.

    My problem is, my partner seems to be happy living in this safe bubble of just us two. We’re not out, partly because she doesn’t want to be. Where we live, homosexuality is still frowned upon so I kind of understand up to a point, but then she doesn’t seem to want to make that connection with other gay or liberal people either. We have no friends and she seems to be okay with that. I know she’s my gf and I’m hers, but she never initiated discussions about who we are outside the bubble. I had to push for it and she sheepishly said “In front of everyone, we’re friends,”

    As I said, I’m generally happy most of the time but there are days such as today that I really feel crappy about living life in the down low. I’ve come to hate socializing because then we will have to pretend we’re someone else and things would just be so awkward. We have built this beautiful life together but without no one knowing, it all feels…pointless. I’m not saying that approval from others is everything but is it weak, is it really so wrong of me to want this relationship to be known?

    #113076
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Priscilla:

    It appears to me that you are depressed at times and she is predominantly afraid: afraid of becoming known to others as one of a same sex couple. So not socializing, for her, is about safety: being safe of others’ disapproval.

    Did you have talks with her about this fear of hers (as I see it)? Do you know of her history regarding fear of disapproval? It may be not only in the area of same sex.

    If the two of you have discussions about her fear, if you approach it gently (because fear is powerful and often enough, overwhelming), and she feels understood, she may be willing and able, slowly, gradually, one little step at a time, to become known…

    anita

    #113882
    Priscilla
    Participant

    Hello, Anita

    Yes, I have a lot of talks with her. Too many, perhaps, that it begins to feel repetitive with no discernible outcome. I know relationship is not about keeping score but I must admit it feels very crappy to have to wait for her to come to her senses. every. damn. time. (Coming out of the closet is only one of the many things she’s afraid of but not willing to admit).

    I don’t know what’s the right word, timid, perhaps? Which kills me because inside this safe bubble of ours, she’s so full of life, she’s funny, and smart but she’s afraid to show that outside, and she’s dragging me to the bubble with her, and I’m not sure I want that.

    And for those of you who think I should be more compassionate and helpful, I’m not a babysitter, okay? I have to reiterate that this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened. She’s got many fears and insecurities that I’ve helped her overcome over the years, yet, she doesn’t seem to learn from those. When she is crippled by a new fear, she will let it overwhelm her until I point that out to her.

    About this coming out of the closet thing, it’s not like she’s afraid of being ‘known’, it’s just she doesn’t trust her own instinct and afraid of the possibility of coming out to the wrong person and having to be responsible of the consequences. I was out in my previous company. I was the one who came out and my boss knew about us and often invited her to company functions. So it wasn’t really about being known, but she would only do that if she knew it was ‘safe’, and it’s putting a lot of burden on me.

    #113884
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    There is nothing unreasonable about wanting to be out, and long-term closeted living can have very serious consequences, as you’ve already noticed: no social life, creeping anxiety/paranoia, a lack of external support, disaster in the case of a medical emergency… It’s no way to live, basically.

    Try to reach out to other non-straight people, either in your area, or at least online. Try to learn from their perspective and experience on how to handle this. Spoilers though: they will tell you to come out, for goodness sake. Unless by “frowned upon where we live” you mean “we’d get arrested” or “we’d lose our jobs, ruin our chances at getting a mortgage and possibly lose the flat”, you don’t have a good enough reason not to. And so much to gain when you do.

    As for how to convince her of this: it may be hard. Talk to her about your fading social life. You need friends, you can’t have only one person you can be yourself around, that’s a recipe for madness, not a healthy relationship. Get her to read all of “I’m from Driftwood,” or at least check out the It Gets Better project. Talk to her about maybe, therapy? Take her with you when you check out the local lesbian bookclub (yeah, not likely, but try to find something if you can).

    Be compassionate, but be clear with her: you need to do this. You can come out slowly or you can come out all at once, but you can’t continue to live in the dark. It’s not a viable option for a healthy, fulfilling, beautiful life.

    #113957
    Peppermint
    Participant

    Monklet80 and the others allready said it all, but still I wanted to say this. You asked “How Important is a Recognition by Others?” and I think it is obvious when you look at what is going on in the world. People go to gay pride parades, fight for equal rights and same sex marriages. A lot of people feel like you do and want to feel recognized and accepted. It is totally understandable that you want the people around you to know about your partnership and that you don’t want to pretend that things are different from what they are.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by Peppermint.
    #114236
    Priscilla
    Participant

    Thank you, Monklet80 and Peppermint.

    I’m…scared. I think I’m going to end it. I might not be as happy as I had painted myself to be in my initial post. It’s tough when it’s not as clear as domestic violence or something like that, that you’re supposed to leave.

    Something happened over the weekend. It’s just one of those little things that actually provide clues to bigger issues in the relationship. She was upset about something I’d done and instead of telling me how she felt like an adult, she chose the passive aggressive route. I confronted her right away and only then she told me that she was upset and why. Instead of taking the time to ‘coach’ her that that’s not how an adult behaves in a healthy relationship, for the first time, I just left. Needed some place to cry so I just went to the movies and cried in the dark. I’ve got no friends to support me through this. It’s hard. I’ve been googling ‘ending a long term relationship’ a lot. Haven’t been able to stop crying, hopefully my work mates buy my allergy story.

    #114242
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Priscilla:

    I just noticed you replied to my message to you three days ago and I read your latest post. I am sorry you are in pain. You seem to be tired of your girlfriend’s anxiety (ongoing, excessive fear). You view her as timid, passive-aggressive, immature, a child that needs to be talked sense to, to be babysat and you are tired of her.

    Please relax best you can before- and if- you end the relationship. In your original post you wrote that you are generally happy in the relationship. You may be right now in a temporary sick-and-tired state of mind OR you may be ready to end it. But relax first, take a break of some kind, you may be too emotional right now to think clearly.

    anita

    #114268
    Priscilla
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita.

    Yes, I did say I was generally happy in the sense that I’m not in a life-or-death situation, I’m not threatened in any way, and I don’t fear for my safety or well-being, but I think I need to assess whether those equal happiness.

    I’m not trying to make light of domestic violence but I think sometimes it’s easier to walk away from a violent relationship than the kind of relationship that I have now, which is essentially a good friendship. I feel like I’m not getting what I’m looking for in a partner, but she is still a good friend. We started off that way, FYI. And also, the long term thing. We’ve gone through so much and to think of throwing it all away…so, in the back of my mind I’m forever wondering if maybe I should just be patient, maybe I should just stick it out, maybe she’ll come to her senses.

    #114269
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    My heart goes out to you. Maybe leaving is the right thing to do, it sounds like it probably is, but I know it’s hard to make the transition, especially if you haven’t got something to flee towards.

    Ending a relationship is not the same as throwing it all away. You’ll still have the time you were together. You’re just not adding to it. And you won’t have to look after her anymore. Think about that and see whether it provokes despair or relief in you, or both.

    If there is no one you can talk to, would it be useful for you to keep a journal? Keep it locked up for your own peace of mind and to free your hand. I found journalling very useful when I ended my 10yr+ relationship.

    Strength and courage to you, friend.

    #114288
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Priscilla:

    You are welcome. I do hope that you define happiness at this point as more than a none life-and-death situation and that you define a healthy relationship as more than one free of domestic violence.

    Your last sentence: “maybe I should just be patient, maybe I should just stick it out, maybe she’ll come to her senses.”

    You expressed a burden that you feel with her, like babysitting a child, having to lead her back to her senses, again and again… how often and how does this dynamic looks like in your daily life? I am asking in effort to encourage a conversation that may help you to get the clarity you need to decide whether to stay or leave the relationship.

    anita

    #114463
    Priscilla
    Participant

    Thanks, Monklet80. Your words mean a lot to me.

    Hi, Anita. To be frank, about 90% of our relationship involves this dynamic. Her being happy-go-lucky and my being the killjoy, the serious one, the one who pushes for things.

    I actually had a long talk with her last night. I was so sure I was out the door but when it comes down to it, I still couldn’t do it. Anyway, I brought up the fact that I have adjusted myself a lot to be with her. I believe relationship is about compromise, meeting the other person in the middle, and I asked her to do her part but she has always seemed miffed by this idea, which she repeated again last night. She said she couldn’t understand why I treat this relationship like a business transaction, that it’s tit-for-tat.

    I honestly can’t answer her. I know relationship is not about keeping scores but if one person is clearly being disadvantaged by the other person (even though it might be unintentional), is it really wrong to ask the other person to do something?

    #114477
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Priscilla:

    A relationship, any relationship should be a Win-Win deal, business and personal. If it is a Lose for you, 90% of the time, then it is not a healthy relationship for you. Being rigid, “tit-for-tat” is not what I mean, of course, by seeing to it that the relationship is a Win for you.

    The evaluation of whether it is a Win for you or a Lose, is a personal evaluation, of course. I would look into my behavior, my participation in the relationship AND her behavior, her participation in the relationship. Maybe make a list of these two things, of the Wins vs the Loses for you.

    Maybe she can make the same list. A couple therapy with a competent relationship psychotherapist will be great- I can imagine the therapist- if it is a CBT therapist- giving the two of you exercises such as this listing and after the listing comparing those so to arrive, in the therapeutic session, to a realistic view of the relationship.

    anita

    #114483
    Jessa
    Participant

    Hi Priscilla,

    No! No it is not wrong at all to ask your partner for equal treatment and for your needs to be met. To me it seems like you clearly just want the same patience, thoughtfulness, and emotional support that you provide to her. No matter how strong you are, at the end of the day, we all need someone to lean on and depend on sometimes. I find myself wondering about these things reading through your thread… its a lot so dont feel like you have to respond if you dont want to, just take whats useful and throw the rest out… πŸ™‚

    1. She hears, but does she understand? When you talk, do you take time to be vulnerable and let her know this is something you need, and that it isnt about not loving her, its about feeling unloved? Have you taken the time to let her know how much it would mean to you to know that you are both comfortable with the outside world knowing about this part of your lives? Does SHE take the time to listen openly, or does she immediately brace herself, assuming that you are just criticizing her and putting her down (even if youre not)?

    2. How much change are you hoping for? Timidness often comes from low self-esteem, and people outgrow it when they are given lots of positive encouragement to experiment with self expression. This might not be something she can change quickly. Can you be okay with a slow change process? Can you be okay with letting her know you accept her timid feelings, and you still want to see her cared about by friends who accept her for exactly who she is?

    3. I dont blame you at all for feeling sick and tired of coaching her. Its exhausting to constantly build a partner up. At some point you just run out of fs to give. If you are usually communicating clearly, letting her know when you need some support from her, letting her know how she can help or take care of you, and she STILL isnt interested in it and always wants to be taken care of or punishes you for showing vulnerability and wont see a couples therapist with you- I think thats a good time to sit down and consider the future of a relationship.

    Jessa

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