Q: I need some advice on how to deal with my ex. After three years of being together, he broke up with me. He told me he was having feelings for other men. I was shocked by this, but I told him that I accept him even if he’s a bisexual, and that I love him for who he is. A month after the breakup, he said he wants us to start again as friends and see where it might lead. But I have a feeling that he’s just using me because I know his secret. He told me that he thinks he’s straight and that being in a relationship with another man would lead him nowhere – plus he’s afraid to tell his family. He said he doesn’t want to lose me in his life and wants to eventually get back together. Is he just using me to have an assurance that he won’t end up alone, or do you think he really loves me?
– J.L., West Seneca
A: This is a tough one. A month of self-exploration is not very long, and I think it would do him some good to continue on that journey of self-discovery for more time. Yes, he might be using you as a cover to avoid coming out to his family, but if he’s having feelings for other men, he needs to get a full understanding of that part of himself before he can begin dating you, or any other woman, again.
If you are seriously considering getting back together eventually, insist that he seek counseling to work through his confusions. You’re in a danger zone and could wind up with a person who may long for intimacy from men for the rest of his life, which means you may never have him fully. Research from as far back as 2002 suggests that bisexuality exists four times as much in women as it does in men, which means that there’s a larger chance that he might actually be gay. Don’t put your heart back on the line again until both of you are sure about what you want.
Too close for comfort
Q: I have been with my girlfriend for a little over a year now, but have recently developed social anxiety when we are out with her friends. I do not expect her to stand next to me the whole time, but I am unsure how to tell her that I need her to be close in order for me to be comfortable. I am not jealous that she mingles with her friends, I’m merely uncomfortable around them alone. How can we work through this?
– S.E., South Buffalo
A: After a year, you should be feeling more comfortable in the presence of her friends, but since you’re not, try to examine the reasons why. This sounds more like an issue of insecurity rather than social anxiety.
Are you having problems in your relationship? Are there certain friends in particular that make you uncomfortable? Are there certain topics of conversation that make you anxious? Are you socially anxious around other people, too, or is it just her friends? These kinds of specific questions will help narrow down the possible cause of your “recent” development.
The old saying that opposites attract does not always hold true. Extroverts and introverts do not always make the best match. If you find that this is your situation, it might be time to talk about your future.
If it’s an insecurity issue, maybe the two of you can come up with some kind of system when you’re out together where she squeezes your hand every so often to remind you that she’s there. If this does not work, therapy would be beneficial.
Patti Novak welcomes your relationship questions. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and please include your initials and hometown.