Dear Ms. Behavior:
My ex-partner, Suzanna, and I, who were together for six years, broke up amicably but sadly a couple of years ago.
All was OK between us until she got a new girlfriend, Amber, who was very jealous. I took a graceful step back, figuring that Amber either would chill out or be such a pain in the ass that soon, she’d get the boot.
Anyway, now that Suzanna ousted Amber, she has been much more present, and, shall we say, needy. She wants me to cart her all over town, and run her errands and keep her company. We still own a car and a country house together, which requires a bit of scheduling and flexibility on both our parts.
I’d gotten used to the time away from Suzanna, and had begun to move on in my own life. It seems sad to me that Suzanna only wants me around when her life is empty.
The other problem is that Suzanna drinks a lot, and wants me to hang out with her while she gets drunk. All these reasons—the alcohol, her neediness and unreasonable demands—are why I wanted to be apart from her in the first place. I feel like I have to break up with her all over again.
What should I do?
Dear Suzanna’s (Ex)-Slave:
It seems depressing to go through the pain of shedding a girlfriend without any of the advantages—like extra joy and autonomy in your life.
Worse, you’re suffering the negative aspects of your former relationship by chauffeuring Suzanna around, and watching her spill her martinis, without the benefits of delightful lesbian sex—or at least cuddling as a cunnilingus substitute.
If you feel she only wants you around when her life is empty, why are you participating in this relationship? Don’t you have anything better to do when she wants you to do her errands? What would happen if you refused to spend time with her when she was drunk?
Like most people, you probably hate the “V” word (victim, not vagina). It will help you in future relationships if you can use this situation with Suzanna as an opportunity to stop being victimized. But you first have to consider what you get out of this seemingly unrewarding scenario.
For example, do you require another person’s dependency to make you feel worthy? Does being seen as reliable make you feel like you’ll never be left?
You need to figure this out, so that you don’t repeat the pattern with your next girlfriend, who’ll also have you running in circles and doing tricks.
Then, take a firm stand. Stop doing errands and babysitting your ex. Talk to Suzanna about selling the house and the car, and splitting the proceeds.
Stop being the poster dyke for “Ex-Lovers Are Forever,” and try to find a little joy in your own independent life.
Carpe Diem, Missy.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I just met the most wonderful guy. The good news: His last husband of three-and-a-half years was older than I am. The bad news: The guy is only 27 (ouch). I am 51.
Is it possible for a relationship to work when the age difference is so large?
He said age is just a number, but I know it is more than that. It is a record of how long each of us has been alive.
Thanks for your advice.
It would be lovely if age really were just a number. But if that were true, Junior would not have consecutively chosen two men who were so much older than he.
Consciously or not, he’s looking for something specific that he feels he can get from someone two-and-a-half decades his senior. (Hello, Daddy?)
Ms. Behavior sometimes receives letters from people with intergenerational relationships that have soured, particularly when the age difference is so large. The traits that had appealed to them in the beginning now annoy them.
The younger member of the couple complains the low-key lifestyle that once felt calming now seems too sedentary. The older member gripes that he secretly feels unable to maintain the level of activity his partner needs, and he yearns for more sophisticated companionship.
For the sake of perspective on your compatibility: Your boyfriend candidate was born 10 years before President Bill Clinton was inaugurated, and three years after MTV started. He probably never wrote a school essay without a computer.
He reached puberty when you were already beginning middle age. By the time he was old enough to have sex, it was never safe to do it without a condom.
Finally, you’re at the age where you need annual prostate exams, but your boyfriend still has not achieved his full bone mass.
None of this would matter much (you could consider it similar to a multicultural marriage), except that the chances of not engaging in a father-son dynamic are practically low.
Ultimately, your decision about whether to get involved should include some consideration of how you feel about that fact.
But who are we kidding? By the time you read this, you and Junior will probably be shopping for a Wii for your living room.
© 2011 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <email@example.com>. 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.