Dear Worrier Princess: Step Back and Away
dear worrier princess is a queer advice column based off the ex-girlfriend of my ex-girlfriend is my girlfriend, an advice zine by maddy court (a.k.a @xenaworrierprincess on instagram).
Queery #1: My girlfriend and I set up two of our single friends. One friend was someone we're very close to and the other was more of a casual acquaintance. They hit it off immediately and for the first few months, they were all over each other. They took us to dinner as a thank you, joked about naming their children after us, and really planned a life together. My girlfriend and I were a little skeptical, but happy to let them be happy. We all spent a lot of time together. A few weeks ago, they broke up for totally normal "we made a lot of commitments before we really knew each other" reasons. Since then, they've been separately hitting me and my girlfriend up for information and moral support. One even asked if we could mediate a discussion and we had to politely decline. We feel like spies and therapists. It's been weeks and our friends are still acting like they're the first people to ever be heartbroken before. There's only so many ways you can rephrase "you just weren't right for each other." We can't invite friends over for dinner without one or both of them making it all about their feelings about sharing space. How do we get a break? How do we all stay friends?
Here’s a scenario ripped from my own life: your friend breaks up with her girlfriend. You spend hours validating her feelings of abandonment, rejection, and confusion. You promise that she’ll meet someone new. You plan a fun day trip and watch her sob in an apple orchard. You even lie about Tinder being fun. But instead of moving on, she rehashes stale drama. She subtweets and sends ill-advised texts because any attention from her ex is good attention. She becomes so embittered, you wonder if she even sees her ex-girlfriend as a person anymore. Time passes and supporting her becomes increasingly draining. Your friendship starts to feel a little one-sided. You burn out and stop replying to her texts. This is what you and your girlfriend are experiencing, except it’s coming at you from two fronts. No wonder you sound exhausted—you’re in the middle of a breakup and it’s not even your relationship.
Your friends are expecting you to accommodate their conflict. This is a big, unfair ask. The next time they ask for recon or a seating chart, ask them to communicate with each other instead. Say that you’re unable to take sides and unwilling to feed a conflict between two people you consider friends. This is all you and your girlfriend can do. Your friends might spend some time in the no-contact zone, or, *gasp* get back together. Someone might remove themselves from the situation completely. I’ve known so many queer couples who went through gut-wrenching breakups and eventually became close friends. Whatever happens between your friends, it’s not up to you or your girlfriend.
The final lesson from all this? You can bring two people together, but you can’t mediate their breakup.
Queery #2: When I was 15, I realized I was a lesbian by falling in love with my best friend at the time (classic). We were incredibly close and definitely more than friends, but we also weren't a couple. We never talked about what actually was between us - I was too scared to ruin the friendship and she gaslighted me into believing it was all in my head. She was very beautiful and sweet, so pretty much every dude in my grade was interested in her, but she never showed serious interest in any of them. The guys we would hang out with occasionally would ask if we were more than friends, and she openly denied it every time but then acted the opposite towards me later. When it eventually became too much for me, I confronted her and told her how I felt about her. She acted surprised, despite her always having been the initiator. She tried being my friend afterwards but I couldn't; I felt too betrayed because I didn’t only lose my best friend but also got my heart broken. I don’t think she did any of this maliciously though, she was probably just immature. This was about 3-4 years ago.
She still to this day contacts me every five months, randomly replies to stories (she still follows me, I unfollowed her years ago). She will usually ask me what I'm up to or where I am. I always try to be relatively cold because I am unsure of what she wants from me. At some point she's asked me to meet up or go for coffee but I couldn't find the time so it never happened. I don't know what her intentions are or why she still tries to be part of my life. I'm as over her as possible at this point, and we grew apart a lot after things ended. I wonder a lot about what it all meant to her though. If she was merely bored, if she is actually bi now or if she was just trying herself out? The fact that she keeps popping up over social media makes me feel like she has something to tell me but I don’t know if I want to hear it. Should I ask her about what happened on her side and have answers and closure (that I'm not sure if I even need at this point), or should I let the past be?
I’m no Miss Cleo, but here are some possible explanations for your ex-bff’s behavior:
She misses you but is too scared to apologize
She doesn’t understand how deeply her actions affected you
She’s reconciling with her own queerness and looks up to you as a big gay role model
It’s difficult to reconcile with high school bullies and mean girls. How do you honor your pain, but also acknowledge that you were both kids? How do find closure when someone seems oblivious to the harm they caused? 15-year-olds are not known for their emotional awareness and communication skills. It’s a rough age for most people. What if your ex-bff was up to her neck in internalized homophobia? What if admitting her feelings for you felt like screaming her deepest shame aloud? You don’t know because at the time, you weren’t able to speak openly about it. Talking to her might give you more insights, or it might not. You can’t expect closure, just her side of the story.
Here’s what I do know: your ex-bff’s messages are affecting you. The friendship you shared was life-altering and devastating for you, and she’s in your DMs like nothing ever happened. On the other hand, re-opening contact might open an emotional can of worms. Your ex-bff might not be ready for an honest conversation. You might have lingering feelings. If reconciling seems too raw and painful right now, you can shelve it and reconsider at a later date. You have her name and contact info. There’s no deadline.
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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All illustrations for this column are done by Sid Champagne. Sid is a freelance illustrator based in Baltimore by way of the Gulf Coast. You can find them on Twitter @sid_champagne, or Instagram (more cat pics) @sidchampagne