Dear Ms. Behavior:
My girlfriend, Molly, and I are breaking up, but still living together (in separate bedrooms) until our lease is up next month. We’ve tried to break up six previous times. She usually dumps me until she feels lonely, and wants me back.
This time, the breakup was my idea, and it’s having a strange effect on Molly. She climbs into my bed in the morning and cuddles with me, and then wants to have sex. I’ve given into it twice, and it hasn’t made me feel good.
My friends think she’s just doing it to prove she can have me anytime she wants. They also say the relationship was abusive.
When we’re together, Molly takes me for granted, criticizes me, and makes me feel unattractive. But if I muster up the courage to let go, she comes at me with her butch charm, and wants me more than ever. I want to get out of the relationship, but I’m afraid I’ll stay.
How can I get her to let me go?
Dear Too Easy:
Molly is exhibiting Butch Conquest Behavior, which occurs when butches switch from feeling relieved and free because the relationship is ending to feeling abandoned because you’re OK with it.
The key to successful disentangling is for you to remain as neutral as possible. Stay out of intense conversations, but don’t become mean or dismissive, because you only will juice her up into some weird seductive state. If she feels rejected or humiliated, or if she can tell you’re happy to be moving on with your life, she’ll try to “bond” by cuddling and having sex.
Emphasize that the breakup is mutual, and that you’re joined in a healthy goal. If you each can manage to feel that you’re not being rejected or abandoned, you’ll be able to part without causing each other a lot of pain.
Because your tendency is to relent, try to move before your lease is up, even if you have to put your stuff into storage, and stay with a friend. The temptation to be warm and cozy with Molly, leading to confusing and mediocre sex, probably will subside once you’re out of her reach.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
You are the wisest and most fair advice columnist in the world, and whatever your decision I will accept.
My boyfriend of 17 years invited a friend (W) and one of our employees whom we are also friends with (K) to have a birthday slumber party for W. He did this without mentioning it to me.
When I heard the plans from K, I complained, and my boyfriend immediately told K it was off, which made it look like I was being a bitch. So, I told him to go ahead, and have them over.
Then, he invited W to sleep in my office, rather than downstairs with K (in a separate bed). But my office is private. So, I said I don’t want anyone sleeping in my office.
My boyfriend thinks I was a bitch, and doesn’t think he put me in that position by inviting our friends into my space without talking to me about it first.
By the way, having friends over unannounced never is a problem for me (sleeping over is OK, too, if it just happens), but unannounced visitors and even phone calls almost always annoy my BF.
So, my question is: How do I stop looking like a bitch next to my goodtime boyfriend. Or am I just truly a bitch?
—Bitchy Bitch Bitch
Dear Bitchy Bitch Bitch:
If guests in your office really bug you, buy a sofa bed for your living room, and request that it become the official sleeping spot for guests. Or, you could do what kids in comic strips do with their clubhouses: Post a sign on your office door that says “Keep Out, and That Means You.”
Often, when a recurring argument occurs in a relationship, the content doesn’t matter. It’s about each person wanting to be “right” or in control.
Your boyfriend feels that you’re rigid, and you feel that he doesn’t listen or consider your feelings. This makes it unclear whether you actually are bitchy, or just chronically annoyed by a lack of consideration.
When an issue comes up repeatedly in your relationship, ask yourself if the issue at stake really matters to you. If it does, try talking about the underlying issue, e.g., that you feel ignored or disrespected, instead of just bickering.
Of course, if when you say “slumber party,” you really mean “orgy,” a whole other set of issues may be involved that Ms. Behavior hasn’t addressed.
© 2007 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.