Dear Worrier Princess: How Do We Move On From Here?
Dear Worrier Princess is an advice column based off The Ex-Girlfriend of My Ex-Girlfriend Is My Girlfriend, the viral queer advice zine by Maddy Court (a.k.a.@xenaworrierprincess on Instagram). In this column, Maddy wades into the murky swamp of romantic regret. What happens when a once-solid relationship becomes unbearable? Is it possible to avoid your exes until graduation?
Queery #1: I am a married queer. The circumstances of my marriage were rushed, at the time it appeared a sound decision. Fast forward to 1000 days later and the more I get to know about my partner, the less inclined I am to speed toward the rest of our lives together. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to initiate that conversation without it being relationship ending and thus am frozen in not saying anything. I also can't figure out if it's just that I am unhappy and projecting that to the relationship. I've been giving it a go for the last 6 months but my partner has just internalized and is too busy to make attempts at making it work. I'm lonely, isolated, demoted in self-esteem and 1 small step from a panic attack. How do you decide when you've given it a go? How do you even prompt that conversation?
A few summers ago, I dated someone whose personality clashed with mine. This person responded to my jokes with blank stares. We took bike rides together and they’d zoom half-a-block ahead, as if they were trying to ditch me. One time, we watched a movie on their Hulu account and afterwards, as they were leaving my apartment, they turned around, walked over to my laptop, and logged out. This relationship wasn’t serious, it was a sliver of my life for a month. It wasn’t abusive, toxic, or any of the words we apply to relationships that are genuinely bad. Eventually, I broke up with them via text message. I hit send and for days after, I kept thinking about the Hulu incident. I knew I was being petty, but it bothered me beyond all logic and perspective. This is generally how break-ups go: there’s a period of upheaval, but eventually you find closure and move on. I don’t look back at this or any of my past relationships and think, “damn, I wish that had lasted longer.”
I don’t mean to compare my month-long dating disaster with your honest-to-goddess marriage. I bring it up because just like you, I was pouring time and energy into a relationship that made me feel more alone. Sometimes life is so complicated and overwhelming, we forget to ask ourselves basic questions like, how does my relationship make me feel? Does my relationship enhance my life, or am I just afraid of being single? You’re right that it’s easy to project any and every negative feeling onto something external—your apartment, parents, job, geographic location, and yes, even your marriage. It's a rare person who doesn’t struggle with discontentment and unhappiness. But sometimes, your emotions and body are sounding an alarm because something’s wrong. You sound miserable—don’t be so invested in “giving it a go” that you ignore what’s obvious and plain. To be honest, your queery doesn’t leave me much room to give you advice. You already know your marriage isn’t working, you measure its length in days. You already know being honest with your partner will be difficult and messy, and that you can just say “we need to talk” because how you prompt the conversation doesn’t matter. Tegan and Sara once asked, “where does the good go?” They didn’t just ask once, they asked over and over and over. They asked so many times because the truth is harsh in its simplicity: sometimes the good just goes and it’s gone for good.
Queery #2: My question pertains to the great Catch 22 of lesbian dating: women’s colleges. I’m entering my senior year in a small, SMALL liberal arts college in the midwest in which I have now dated too many people to be strictly comfortable. My last breakup was messy and deeply painful, and now I find I have to finish out one more year of school bumbling around and running into my ex(es) multiple times a day. I feel like I’m literally HAUNTED by the ghosts of my past, fighting the urge to text them, and finding it hard to keep my chin up. What can I do to help myself AND not resort to revenge-seeking bitchiness?
A few columns ago, I wrote to someone who couldn’t stop checking their ex’s Instagram and someone who, like you, was haunted by an omnipresent ex. I get a lot of questions about exes and most of them boil down to, “how do I find a healthy, sustainable way to incorporate this person into my life?” It’s difficult because exes are often embodiments of heartbreak, rejection, and all the other complicated, vulnerable feelings that accompany intimacy. Sometimes an ex represents a period of your life that ended, or a home where you no longer live. Moving forward takes effort, support, and distance. These elements are in short supply at women’s college, which is a grind academically and socially. Earlier this summer, I flew to Philadelphia for my 5-year Bryn Mawr College reunion. I expected to be awash in nostalgia, but mostly I felt sleepy and psychically sunburnt. I’d forgotten what it feels like to exist a space where you know everyone and everyone knows you. My adult life is nothing like Bryn Mawr— I eat most of my meals alone, I have to carve out time to see my friends, and most of the time, I can successfully avoid my exes.
When you imagine the upcoming year, all you see are your exes. You say you want to avoid them altogether, but you also want to text them. You also want revenge. You’re anxious because you don’t know what you want. Instead of imagining every possible negative interaction, clarify what an ideal interaction would look like to you. Write out some boundaries e.g. “I will not text or hangout Riley, but I will be polite and terse if I run into them on campus” or “I can share space with Sophia at a party or in a larger group, but we can’t be more than casual friends.” Stick to your boundaries. Prioritize your studies and make the most of the opportunities afforded to you. Most importantly, don’t lose sight of the fact that your exes are only human. Just like you, they’re trying to write papers, make brownies in a microwave, and finagle a ride to Starbucks from campus security— this whole women’s college thing is weird for them, too.
are you in a pickle regarding your love life? do you have a crush you can't figure out how to talk to, an ex you'd like to reconnect with but don't know if it's appropriate or the right time?
dear worrier princess answers your qs about love and strife in relationships in this complex and modern queer world.
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