Dear Dr. Darcy:
My girlfriend is a very well known promoter in the [San Francisco] Bay area. Although I love her, recently I’ve begun questioning our relationship. I’m not a jealous person but she’s recognized everywhere we go. I’m finding myself feeling competitive with other women. I was a women’s studies major in college and I’m committed to supporting other women, however, when I see the constant attention and admiration she gets from strangers I feel myself becoming catty and turning into someone I don’t like. I’m all for this relationship if it helps me become a better person, but if it’s turning me into a negative person maybe it’s time to get out.
The thing about relationships is that they don’t turn us into anything that isn’t (perhaps dormant) in us. It would be very convenient to identify your partner as the problem because the solution would be simple – just pick better. But there’s a down side to placing responsibility at her feet: If it’s all her fault, you’re powerless to fix it.
I’m not hearing evidence that she’s doing anything to legitimately provoke insecurity in you. And believe it or not, if your relationship is kicking up issues in you, it’s a good thing. I believe relationships act as mirrors, reflecting our issues and magnifying them until they’re so big they can’t be ignored. It may be that you always had some jealousy inside you, and your education made it too difficult to face those feelings, so you detached from them. And I’m sure those feelings pre-dated your celesbian girlfriend.
Ask yourself how comfortable you are being the ‘supportive’ partner, rather than the one in the spotlight. It may be that your discomfort has little to do with feeling threatened by other women, rather, feeling overshadowed by your girlfriend’s professional success.
Here’s one of my tricks for managing my own relationship: When I’m hyper-focused on what Steph’s doing wrong or on negative feelings that she’s kicking up in me, I pause and ask myself, “Ok, what’s going on with me right now?” and I usually realize that she’s an easy distraction from negative emotions I’m feeling that have zero do to with her.
So do not ditch the girlfriend, because if you do you’ll find yourself with your baggage intact and no compelling reason to work through it.
Gender & Orientation: Female, Gay.