Advice – Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights http://www.washingtonblade.com America's Leading LGBT News Source Thu, 20 Sep 2018 11:32:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Should one angry shove be a deal-breaker? http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/08/gay-advice-should-one-angry-shove-be-a-deal-breaker/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/08/gay-advice-should-one-angry-shove-be-a-deal-breaker/#respond Sat, 08 Sep 2018 16:44:42 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47358961 Angry confrontation leads lesbian to reconsider six-month relationship

The post Should one angry shove be a deal-breaker? appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>

(Photo by Siam Pukkato)

Michael,

 

All my friends are telling me to leave my girlfriend because she socked me.

 

She’s telling me that I also have to take some responsibility for the fight, but my friends say there is no excuse for physical abuse.

 

We were supposed to have a fun evening out. It was our six-month anniversary. I planned a really great night: dinner at a popular restaurant where I had to reserve a table two weeks early, then dancing at a club we love. 

 

At the last minute, Cheryl had a work “emergency” and I was majorly pissed. I had taken the time to make this night special. I yelled at her on the phone that she is always putting work first. She’s an associate at a law firm and she claims she “has to” work late and on weekends pretty often if she’s going to get promoted.

 

I canceled the dinner reservation and was at home fuming. I decided to go out to the club rather than stay home by myself. 

 

Right when I got there Cheryl texted me that she’d been able to finish and wanted to start our evening. I was so mad at her that I knew I wouldn’t have a good time with her so I ignored her text. I know she texted me a few times after that.

 

Anyhow there was this really attractive woman there and we were looking at each other and after a while we were dancing together and then we were making out a little.

 

My luck, Cheryl had shown up and sees this. She tracked me on my phone.

 

She interrupts us and starts yelling at me and we go outside. I told her to “f— off” if she can’t be bothered to put our relationship first on a night I planned a whole great evening. When I turned to walk back into the club she pushed me so hard that I fell down and badly skinned my knee.

 

Since then I’m not talking to her. She keeps texting me though. She apologized but says I have a role in this too.

 

If I hadn’t had a few drinks, I probably wouldn’t have been making out and I probably wouldn’t have cussed Cheryl out. But she had really let me down and not for the first time.

 

We did have a good relationship except for the job stuff. I’m wondering if I should keep dating her or if I should consider her behavior unforgivable.

Michael replies:

Should Cheryl have pushed you? No.

Should you have yelled at her for staying late at work, ignored her texts and cursed at her? That’s up to you to decide, but you sure were being hostile to her. 

So when you’ve been sticking it to your girlfriend in all sorts of ways — and let’s include that makeout session with your dance partner — I think it’s a stretch to consider her pushing you to be unforgivable physical abuse. 

I get that you don’t like Cheryl’s putting her work first, but she is clear with you that she believes she must do so at this point in her career. If you can’t abide by that, then don’t be in a relationship with her. Cheryl’s making a choice that you don’t like does not give you license to berate her and otherwise treat her badly.

If you do want to stay with Cheryl and have a good relationship going forward, accept that she is going to break plans with you, evidently with some frequency. Drop the sarcasm and judgment about this and start a conversation with her about how each of you manages your behavior when the other person irritates you or lets you down. Both of you could stand to improve here.

I’m curious if you lash out at anyone else in your life when they don’t behave the way that you want them to. If so, I’d wager you’re putting other relationships at risk. If not, why do so with Cheryl? 

People often tell me that they subject their significant other to all sorts of bad behavior, believing that their partner should love them unconditionally. I think that concept is baloney. Who wants to love someone who treats them badly?

You didn’t mention any previous episodes where Cheryl struck you so I’ll take it that nothing like this ever happened before. If it has, you have more reason to be concerned about being in an abusive relationship if you stay with her. 

That said, if there’s a pattern of Cheryl hitting you after you’ve been yelling at her or otherwise verbally harassing her, then you’re a matched set; and I’ll reiterate that both of you have work to do with regard to handling your frustration, disappointment and anger.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post Should one angry shove be a deal-breaker? appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/08/gay-advice-should-one-angry-shove-be-a-deal-breaker/feed/ 0
Gay D.C. newbie frustrated by hookup culture http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/gay-frustrated-hookup-culture/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/gay-frustrated-hookup-culture/#respond Thu, 23 Aug 2018 16:04:03 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46530903 ‘No one I’ve met really wants to talk about anything’

The post Gay D.C. newbie frustrated by hookup culture appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
hookup culture, gay news, Washington Blade

Dating anyone?

Michael,

 

I’m 22 and just moved to D.C. in June after graduating college and I’m having a horrible time adjusting to gay life here. Doesn’t anyone want to date in this city?

 

Almost every guy I’ve met online so far only wants to hook up, even when we have met for a drink or coffee. 

 

If we make plans to meet again (AKA a date) the other guy really just wants to have sex, no matter what we have put on the agenda.

 

When I feel like there’s more than just a physical connection, then the guy invariably says he just wants to be friends. As if there’s something wrong with having a physical relationship with someone you like?

 

I was waiting to get a haircut today and the guys waiting on either side of me at the salon were both going through hookup apps the entire time they were sitting there. Suddenly I had the realization that all the guys I’ve met in this town just are looking for the next sexual conquest and aren’t interested in anything other than physical connection, usually one time only. 

 

No one I’ve met really wants to talk about anything that might lead us to get to know each other, just really surface-y stuff. Or, my favorite, preferred sexual position. Really?

 

I joined a sports league hoping to meet people in some other way. All we do after playing is go out and drink. Or go to a restaurant, where everyone is looking at hookup apps on their phones while we wait for the food. 

 

I feel like I’m in “The Stepford Wives” and every other guy has gotten his brain hijacked.

 

I come from a small town and went to a small college that didn’t really have a gay presence. So I’m ready to start my life as a gay man. But it seems no other gay men have the same desire for a relationship as I do. Is this just a D.C. thing or is it a gay man thing?

 

I’m really discouraged. When I have sex with someone I just met, I feel sleazy and really unsatisfied.  And now when I go on an app, I feel like I’m participating in this weird and depressing objectification ritual. 

 

I would just like to really get to know someone!

Michael replies:

Don’t let yourself get discouraged. You aren’t the only guy who feels this way. I hear your complaint from a lot of people and I don’t know every gay man in Washington, not by a long shot. So clearly, there are many guys out there looking for more than an endless string of hookups.

At the same time, what you’re observing is real. It’s not just a gay male thing: Lots of people, especially in younger generations, aren’t really interested in dating or relationships. And what you’re describing is also a gay male thing: men (stereotype acknowledged) often enjoy pursuing and having no-strings sex and multiple partners. 

But simply because many guys want to go this route doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dream of a different path. 

OK, you’ve had some bad experiences with the sports league you joined. Time to move on. The question to ask yourself, again and again: What else can I do to meet another guy whom I might like to date?

Summer is drawing to a close but there are still plenty of group activities for gay men with all kinds of interests. Look around, find some possibilities you might like and jump in. Do you have any religious faith?  Find a gay-friendly service to attend. Take a class in some subject that interests you, at an institute of higher learning or a museum. Start a meet-up and see who shows up. Join a gay hiking group.

Don’t give up. You’ve got plenty of time.

And for gosh sakes, keep your eyes off your phone when you’re out and about. When I walk by a bus stop at rush hour, it makes me sad to see everyone staring at their phones. This is a great way to avoid the anxiety of being around people you don’t know, but totally gets in the way of real-life encountering.

If you’re aware of the people around you, you may catch the eye of someone you might want to interact with. If this happens, consider taking a chance and actually saying hi. 

These are my ideas and I imagine that readers of this column may have many more inspiring suggestions for ways you can meet guys without going online.

Request to all readers: If you’d like to share your success stories of finding gay love in D.C., shoot me an email. I’m hoping to get some more great suggestions that I can feature in an upcoming column.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay individuals and couples in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post Gay D.C. newbie frustrated by hookup culture appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/gay-frustrated-hookup-culture/feed/ 0
Girlfriend resents being excluded from upcoming vacation http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/10/girlfriend-resents-being-excluded-from-upcoming-vacation/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/10/girlfriend-resents-being-excluded-from-upcoming-vacation/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 17:53:12 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=45856604 Expectations are never going to line up completely; learn to bend

The post Girlfriend resents being excluded from upcoming vacation appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
lesbian vacation advice, gay news, Washington Blade

Your girlfriend is telling you that she wants a vacation alone with her friends. Respect this.

Dear Michael,

 

My girlfriend is planning a vacation week around Labor Day with six of her gal pals from college and I’m not invited.

 

We’ve been dating for almost a year and had already been together for eight months when they started planning this trip.

 

I really feel she should have invited me to come along. It’s not that I’m jealous or worried anything will happen with one of the other women. I know they’re just friends. I just feel really excluded. 

 

We’ve been getting increasingly serious and have been talking about moving in together when my lease is up in December. So I think it’s right that we should be spending most of our time together, especially vacation, which we don’t get that much of.

 

Kathy says that she’s not using that many vacation days and we still have plenty of time to go away together.  But I think she’s missing the point. I’d love to spend a week at the beach relaxing with her at the end of summer. 

 

And why doesn’t she want me to hang out with her and her friends?

 

She said none her friends are bringing their significant others. But her friends are all straight, so it makes sense not to have any guys at a gals-only weekend. Having me there would be a different story. 

 

I told her that, and she replied that she wants a vacation alone with her friends and having me there would change the dynamic.

 

I don’t get it. I know these women are extremely important to her so this would be a great opportunity for me to get to know them and vice versa. If I’m her girlfriend and this is a serious relationship, what better time for all of us to meet?

 

Supposedly Kathy is out to all her friends but part of me wonders if she is not comfortable bringing me because I’m a woman. Kathy says that’s ridiculous and insulting to her.   

 

This whole thing makes me feel like I don’t mean that much to her. Am I overreacting to her leaving me alone for a week while she goes on vacation with her friends?

Michael replies:

Don’t push your girlfriend to do something she doesn’t want to do. 

This is Kathy’s life and her friend group. She’s telling you that she wants a vacation alone with her friends.  Respect this. Many people want their own space at times, even when they are in relationships. While there’s a popular idea that couples should be practically joined at the hip, doing “everything” together feels smothering to a lot of folks.

You and Kathy are two different people, so it’s inevitable that you aren’t always going to agree on the right way to live. There is no one right way. If you want to be in a generally happy relationship, strive to accept this.

If you try to convince Kathy that she’s wrong and you are right, you will likely damage your relationship.  When you tell your romantic partner how to conduct her life or try to guilt her into doing something she doesn’t want to do, she is bound to become resentful. 

Yes, I get that you are disappointed. But it’s not Kathy’s job to do your bidding so that you’re never let down. Relationships don’t mean that your girlfriend always strives to please you.  It’s Kathy’s job to behave thoughtfully toward you and to honor what she believes is important to her. Sometimes, inevitably, this will mean that she doesn’t do what you want her to do. When this happens, it’s your own job to find a way to tolerate the disappointment.

Given that you’ve been contemplating moving in together, I gather that Kathy is usually caring and attentive. How about putting your focus on what you love and appreciate about her, rather than theorizing about her reasons for excluding you from this vacation or coming up with justifications as to why she should do things your way? 

I understand that you don’t like being left on your own, but no significant other is always going to be by your side. So you’ve got to get better at tolerating the inevitable. For starters, work on keeping your mood positive and staying engaged with life while Kathy is on vacation with her friends. 

Getting better at this will make you a stronger and more resilient girlfriend. No surprise, the stronger and more resilient you are, the more appealing a partner you will be.

Also, you will be a lot more fun to be in a relationship with if you plan an upcoming getaway just for the two of you, instead of moping or being resentful.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post Girlfriend resents being excluded from upcoming vacation appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/10/girlfriend-resents-being-excluded-from-upcoming-vacation/feed/ 0
ADVICE: I have a twink on the side but husband’s using crystal meth http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/07/27/advice-i-have-a-twink-on-the-side-but-hes-using-crystal-meth/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/07/27/advice-i-have-a-twink-on-the-side-but-hes-using-crystal-meth/#respond Fri, 27 Jul 2018 18:23:30 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=45250355 Gay male couple at impasse despite many years together

The post ADVICE: I have a twink on the side but husband’s using crystal meth appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
Crystal meth, gay news, Washington Blade

A couple is at an impasse despite many years together.

Michael —

 

My husband Tom is threatening to leave me for cheating.

 

We have an open relationship and I was under the impression that you cannot cheat in an open relationship. Especially as I have always told him when I hook up with someone, as we agreed to do. However, he says it’s a different story if I’m in love with someone else.

 

That’s a big exaggeration. Usually my hookups are just physical. Recently, though, there is this guy I’ve been spending a lot of time with and I do have a crush on him. But I certainly wouldn’t leave my marriage for him. He’s adorable but he’s 22 and I’m 47.

 

I think Tom is bent out of shape because he’s 58 and worried I’m not feeling it for him lately. Well he’s right, I’m not. But that’s not because of his age. It’s because he is strung out on crystal meth half the time and that’s really starting to bug me.

 

I could point fingers about who is really ignoring our relationship, but why bother? Tom knows I don’t like his getting high but refuses to cut back or stop.

 

Anyhow, Tom keeps insisting I love this twink even though I tell him he’s being an idiot. I don’t want to lose my marriage, even with Tom’s crystal meth use. We’ve been together for years, share a love of traveling the world and have made a beautiful home.

 

But Tom is really being an irrational jerk about this. How do I get him to see that his concerns are all in his head?

Michael replies:

If you want to improve your marriage, the question you ask is far too small.

Why are the two of you married? To share a love of travel and a beautiful home? Because you have a long history together?

These aren’t enough to make a strong marriage. You also need a commitment to be loving, honest and willing to collaborate on navigating the ups and downs of life. But from all that you write, it doesn’t sound like either of you is putting any effort into your marriage. 

So the question is: What sort of shape do you expect your marriage to be in, when you’ve put yourself in the position of having a romantic attachment for another guy you’re having sex with and your husband is checked out on crystal meth half the time?

Marriages aren’t self-sustaining and they aren’t indestructible. They do not thrive under any and all circumstances, no matter what you dump on them.

If you want a husband who is interested in being with you, you have to start being a husband worth staying with. While I am writing this to you, it also applies to Tom, of course. But you only have power over your own behavior.

This means, first of all, developing some standards for yourself. What does it mean to you to be a loving husband, respectful to your spouse and devoted to your marriage? I’m hoping you will have some ideas that will raise your behavior up a few notches from where you describe yourself currently.

The other crucial step to becoming a better husband: consistently keeping an eye on your behavior and confronting yourself to do better when you let yourself down. That’s how you keep yourself on the straight and narrow, so to speak. 

Can you trust yourself to start doing this and keep doing this? Making excuses for yourself or justifying your bad behavior because Tom behaves badly, will surely keep the two of you swimming in the same cesspool you’re now in.

The giant wild card here is Tom’s drug use. Obviously, anyone regularly using mind-altering drugs isn’t thinking too clearly and certainly isn’t inclined to take himself on about how he’s contributing to his own misery.

So even if you change your behavior, your marriage may stay pretty awful if Tom continues using crystal meth. Evidently you want to stay with Tom whether he keeps using or not. I’m hopeful you’ll have a greater possibility of influencing Tom to take a look at his own behavior if you are doing your best as a husband in this marriage. 

But there are no guarantees. Your best shot, once you’ve started to clean up your own act, might be to suggest he check out a Narcotics Anonymous meeting as a first step toward reconsidering his drug use. 

If my reply is to be of any use to you, I must be blunt: You and Tom each have hard work ahead if you are to have a decent marriage.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post ADVICE: I have a twink on the side but husband’s using crystal meth appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]> http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/07/27/advice-i-have-a-twink-on-the-side-but-hes-using-crystal-meth/feed/ 0 Closeted (to parents) lesbian reeling after girlfriend leaves http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/07/13/closeted-to-parents-lesbian-reeling-after-girlfriend-leaves/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 15:55:04 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=44696056 Is it fair to dump someone because she’s not out to religious family?

The post Closeted (to parents) lesbian reeling after girlfriend leaves appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>

Is it fair to dump someone because she’s not out to religious family?

Michael,

 

My girlfriend Becky broke up with me after nine months because I’m not out to my religious parents. 

 

They’ve made it clear my entire life that gay people are not acceptable. If I were to come out to them, I’m certain they would disown me. I couldn’t care less about not getting an inheritance. I just don’t know how I would live without my parents’ loving me.

 

They don’t live in the area so I only see them a couple times per year. When I returned after visiting them for Father’s Day, Becky had moved out.

 

I think it’s really mean of her to be trying to get me to essentially choose between a relationship with her or a relationship with my parents. She isn’t in my shoes. Her parents, whom I know because they live in D.C., are totally supportive and were with us at Pride a few weeks ago. She can’t imagine having parents who would stop loving her as mine would. 

 

And she can’t understand why I’m not mad at them. But I believe you can’t be angry at people over their religious convictions. 

 

I’m heartbroken. I love Becky and have done my best to be a great girlfriend. I’ve been happier with her than I’d ever previously been. Now she pulled the carpet out from under me.

 

Is her behavior fair? 

Michael replies:

This is not a question of fair. Becky gets to decide whether she wants to be with you or not, whatever her reason. You can’t force her to be with you. Likewise, you get to decide if you want to be out to your parents or not. Becky can’t force you. But she doesn’t want to be with you, if you aren’t. 

I’m sorry you’re in pain right now and I’m sorry you’re in a tough situation that’s likely to recur unless you change the conditions of your life. Suppose you get into another relationship. Even if you see your parents infrequently, how might hiding your relationship from them torque your life?  

Would you be afraid to live with your significant other for fear that your parents might visit? If you wanted to become parents yourselves, would you be able to conceal that from your own parents? Would you be able to keep your story straight (literally) so as not to slip up and give yourself away?

Who would want to accompany you on such a life journey? Going along with your secrecy and contortions would be a hardship and a headache.

I’d also venture to say that hiding from your parents must be negatively affecting your self esteem. No matter what justification you make for your parents, part of you has to believe you’re not OK if you’re willing to keep yourself in a straitjacket in order not to offend them. Low self esteem doesn’t make you great relationship material.

I’m not telling you to come out to your parents. No one can make that decision but you, but believing that you need your parents’ love to survive and that they must think you’re straight so that they will love you, will constrict your life and interfere with your efforts to find someone to love you for whom you actually are.

Perhaps they might surprise you and choose you over their religious beliefs. But you can’t force them to accept you. All you can do is decide whether what you have with them is worth what you’re losing in return.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT individuals and couples in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post Closeted (to parents) lesbian reeling after girlfriend leaves appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
Weight gain a potential dealbreaker in troubled gay marriage http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/06/29/weight-gain-a-potential-dealbreaker-in-troubled-gay-marriage/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 13:31:24 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=43894549 One hubby tired of being a gym bunny; elicits scorn from partner

The post Weight gain a potential dealbreaker in troubled gay marriage appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>

Tired of pressure to look perfect?

Michael,

 

I’m sick of my husband’s expectations that the two of us be fabulous gym bunnies. For gosh sakes, we are in our late 30s. I have no interest in working out two hours a day, six days a week.

 

I don’t care about having a six pack anymore. Or about having big muscles in all the right places, a V-shape or even being thin. 

 

For that matter I hate hanging out with our friends drinking or going to clubs. So vapid. Ditto weekends sitting at the rooftop pool in a skimpy swimsuit that takes a lot of work to look hot in.  Listening to everyone gossiping about everyone else is no longer my idea of fun. 

 

When I don’t go to the gym, Will complains. When I eat as much as I want of whatever I want, he criticizes me. Somehow his excessive drinking is fine with him. Over the past year I’ve decided I want to enjoy life and to hell with body fat percentage. I’ve gained 15 pounds So what? I’m far from morbidly obese.

 

But Will is furious. He complains that he’s not attracted to me anymore and that he’s embarrassed to be out with me. I’m this close to not going out anymore anyway, so I couldn’t care less.

 

I feel like it’s time we grew up and stopped trying to meet a standard that is better suited to 22 year olds.

 

Will says he is thinking we should separate and says I’m not living up to his expectations. 

 

And I’m starting to agree about splitting. Shouldn’t I be able to expect that my husband will accept me for who I am? 

Michael replies:

Expectations are a tricky thing in relationships.

Of course you want to be accepted by your spouse. And of course you want respect. But even the best of partners may struggle at times to be accepting and respectful, especially when under stress and when confronting differences that they perceive to be threatening.

Thoughtfulness? That gets complicated if your mate thinks that your being thoughtful involves doing whatever he wants you to do. 

Exercise, food, activity choices? Even if two people agree about such issues at the start of a relationship, they’re both going to change in some way or another as time goes by. 

And clearly, that’s what’s happened in your marriage. Your tastes — and far more importantly, your values — have changed, and now you want to lead a life that is different from the one you’ve been leading. 

If you want a shot at being happily married going forward, drop your expectations and accept that your husband wants to keep living life the way he lives it. Gym, drinking, rooftop pool and all. Even if you think it’s way past time that he grew up. Even if he doesn’t extend the same courtesy to you. Expecting reciprocation is also an expectation. And it’s not going to get you anywhere. 

However, if you stop telling Will that your way is the right way, you will be taking a big step to reduce the antagonism in your marriage.

If you take on this challenge, you’ll have to find a way to deal with your husband’s criticism that does not involve criticizing him in return, or acting morally superior.  “Even though you’re criticizing me, I’m not going to tell you how ridiculous you act” is pouring gasoline on the fire. Instead, how about, “Even though you’re criticizing me, I’m committed to this relationship and I don’t think we should tell each other how to live.”

Regarding the two of you separating: You made a commitment and it’s worth asking yourselves why you got married in the first place. Was it just to have someone to sit by the pool and be skinny with or was it for something more?

From your letter, it doesn’t sound like the two of you have much common ground. But maybe all the hostility has gotten in the way of your seeing anything good in your marriage.

Here is one big positive that you do have: a spouse who is challenging you to grow. This is a blessing in disguise. You and your husband are both being pushed to figure out how to accept difference and collaborate with someone who sees things very differently from you. 

The good news is, you have identified that it is time to redefine your life. Your challenge now is to see what happens if you stay committed to your principles and desires while avoiding unwinnable arguments about who is “right” and staying connected with your husband at the same time. 

Commitment doesn’t only mean enjoying good times together.  It also means rolling up your sleeves and doing your best to work through difficulties.

Find Michael Radkowsky online here. Submit questions at michael@michaelradkowsky.com

The post Weight gain a potential dealbreaker in troubled gay marriage appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
Girlfriend mocks partner’s pet cause to duo’s detriment http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/06/14/girlfriend-mocks-partners-pet-cause-to-duos-detriment/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:00:42 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=43091797 Is it playful kidding or downright hostility for lesbian millennials?

The post Girlfriend mocks partner’s pet cause to duo’s detriment appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
young lesbian dating advice, gay news, Washington Blade

Is it playful kidding or downright hostility for lesbian millennials?

Michael,

 

I think my girlfriend doesn’t respect me and I don’t know what to do about it.

 

We’re a pretty typical 20-something lesbian couple. She works for queer justice, not making much money but definitely helping to make our world a better place.

 

I have a boring job that is helping me pay off my student loans and keeps a roof over our heads. And I spend most of my free time on my real passion, working for animal rights. 

 

That’s the big problem between me and Christie. 

 

She is always ragging on me for caring more about animals than people. She says if I have free time I should be fighting for “our” cause. She asks me why I waste my time trying to get people to stop eating pigs or rescuing animals from slaughterhouses when LGBT teens are being bullied.

 

I don’t get how she can be so compassionate toward humans and so shut down about the suffering of animals. She says that’s a stupid comparison. I wonder why can’t she have compassion for everyone.

 

When we go out to eat, she’ll sometimes make insulting remarks about what I eat to our friends and then say how “yummy” her non-vegan food is, asking me if I want a bite or holding up a slice of bacon and saying “oink.” She says she’s just being funny but I feel totally disrespected. And I find her lack of compassion toward other sentient beings pretty chilling.

 

I’m still with her because aside from this she has a really generous heart. The work she does for our community is beautiful and except for this stuff, she is a very caring girlfriend. Also, she’d have trouble affording a place to live on her own and I don’t want to destabilize her life like that.

 

Do you think I’m being too sensitive? Is there a way to get her to be more respectful of the things I care about? I’ve asked her to stop being so critical multiple times and she won’t. 

Michael replies:

You are not being too sensitive.

You describe repeatedly asking Christie to stop denigrating a cause you care deeply about and Christie continuing to mock what you hold dear.

If Christie simply didn’t care much about animal rights, that wouldn’t be problematic, as long as she was respectful of your wanting to put your energy and passion into alleviating non-human suffering. Both members of a couple don’t have to care about all the same causes.

The problem is that Christie is relentlessly critical of your beliefs and the work you do. That’s no way for someone to treat her girlfriend and no way for you to live. 

You wonder if there’s some means by which you could convince Christie to be more respectful of your work on behalf of animals. What more do you imagine you could do, given that you’ve asked her to stop repeatedly and she hasn’t?

If you want to stop being subjected to Christie’s obnoxious criticisms, your surest bet is to get out of the line of fire. So let’s think about why you aren’t doing that.

I get your concern about destabilizing Christie’s life, given that she relies on you to pay the bulk of the rent. But Christie, like you, is an adult. It’s up to her to find a way to take care of her own needs, including shelter. 

If you’re staying with her because you’re afraid she can’t find a way to cover her rent, you are actually disrespecting Christie, by treating her like an incapable child. And of course you are doing yourself no favors if you are staying in a relationship out of pity. So ask yourself, why are you choosing to stay with her?

You say that aside from the behavior you describe, she is a very caring girlfriend. Really? I’m curious how you could see Christie’s ongoing taunts as compatible with being a very caring girlfriend.

Here is a possibility to consider: Do you have a history of not being treated well in some previous relationship —romantic, familial or otherwise? That might contribute to your accepting nasty behavior as “just part” of being in a relationship. 

I may be on the wrong track here, because you do seem to see Christie’s behavior accurately, but is it possible you need to open your eyes a little more to reality?

I’d also like you to consider whether you might be staying in this relationship in some part because doing so allows you to feel a sense of superiority, for tolerating Christie’s insults; or virtuousness, for helping Christie keep a roof over her head.

Again, I may be on the wrong track. But your continuing to stick it out in a miserable situation, in part because you don’t want to shake up Christie’s life, makes me wonder if you have a taste for martydom.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post Girlfriend mocks partner’s pet cause to duo’s detriment appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
LGBT ADVICE: Boyfriend doesn’t want to co-habitate after two years http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/05/31/moving-in-with-boyfriend/ Thu, 31 May 2018 22:32:15 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=42430775 Key to stalemate is how open he is on other relationships issues

The post LGBT ADVICE: Boyfriend doesn’t want to co-habitate after two years appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>

Michael,
 
I want to move in with my boyfriend and he is pushing back. We’ve been dating for almost two years.  Isn’t it time?
 
I’m sick of planning who goes where on what night, worrying about having everything I need both at his place and mine and just sleeping alone sometimes.
 
I want to have a home together. Buy groceries, decorate, split the chores, maybe get a dog or cat — really share our lives.
 
Brad says he wants to wait. He says he likes having some space and time to himself. He says things are great as they are, meaning we have lots of time together and also some space.
 
I told him we could get a two-bedroom and he can close the door when he wants. Since we’ve been dating, he’s always liked some time and space for himself and that’s been totally OK with me. So I’m sure I wouldn’t mind if he had his own space in a place we were sharing.
 
But he still says no and won’t give me a timeline for when he would consider this.
 
I just want to be more of a couple. I could see us getting married one day but we’re two guys in our 20s.  Right now the idea of committing to being together forever is way too much. I think if we lived together, we could deepen our commitment and maybe down the road we would feel comfortable with marriage.
 
I’m starting to feel like he has his arms out keeping me at a distance. I don’t know how much to push this.  I don’t want to come across as clingy, because I’m not. I don’t think it’s clingy to want to live with your boyfriend whom you love.
 
Is there any way to work this out or should we call it quits?

Michael replies:

Of course it makes sense that you want to move in with your boyfriend after almost two years. But Brad doesn’t agree with you on this point and he doesn’t have to.

It’s normal for couples to disagree about all sorts of things, including really important matters like when to start living together or whether to do so. Part of being in a relationship is figuring out how to be a couple despite the differences that are bound to come up.

It’s also true that sometimes when two people want to go forward in two different directions that can’t be reconciled, it makes sense for them to part.

But in any case, to deal with differences — and simply to know each other well — each partner needs to share what he’s thinking and why his stance on a given topic is important to him.

That’s why Brad’s unwillingness to talk about future suggests there’s a big problem in your relationship, even bigger than a stalemate over moving in or not. You can work on deepening your relationship without living together, but you can’t have a close relationship with a man who won’t let you know what he’s thinking.

Maybe I’m overreacting to Brad’s refusal to discuss about the possibility of you two living together, but I don’t think so. His unwillingness to open up on this subject is a giant red flag specifically because the subject is so important to you.

Is Brad is willing to talk with you about other sensitive topics? If so, that’s good news, because it suggests he values the importance of two people in a relationship opening up to each other.

You could ask Brad if he would be willing to talk with you about why the issue of moving in together is so difficult for him to discuss. Talking may not change his mind about moving in of course, but at least you will understand him better.

If Brad doesn’t talk with you about other important topics, consider the likelihood that he is not comfortable having a relationship that is closer than the one you have now.

You could spend a lot of energy trying to figure out why Brad might not want to open up. Maybe he’s just scared to have a relationship that’s close. Maybe he comes from a family where feelings aren’t ever discussed, so he doesn’t have a clue how to proceed. Maybe there’s some internalized homonegativity getting in the way of his going deeper into a relationship with another man.

But your hypothesizing won’t alter the situation. Brad is the one who has to confront himself about his reticence to let you get closer if anything is to change.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post LGBT ADVICE: Boyfriend doesn’t want to co-habitate after two years appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
Young lesbian takes her time deciding if she’ll forgive snarky comment http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/05/17/young-lesbian-takes-her-time-deciding-if-shell-forgive-snarky-comment/ Thu, 17 May 2018 21:30:48 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=41755261 Drunken episode six months ago sends couple in endless back-and-forth loop

The post Young lesbian takes her time deciding if she’ll forgive snarky comment appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
relationship forgiveness

Michael,

 

I said something really hurtful to my girlfriend and she’s having a hard time forgiving me.

 

She took a semester off from college last year for mental health reasons and about six weeks ago I made an insulting remark to her about the episode.

 

This happened during an evening that included a lot of drinking. I know that’s not an excuse to be cruel. I have apologized a lot. I explained I didn’t mean what I said and was trying to be funny, but I wasn’t thinking clearly.

 

Jen goes back and forth as to whether she can forgive me. She points out that this wasn’t the first time I’ve been snarky when we’re drinking and says I should know that her mental health is a sensitive topic I shouldn’t joke about. I agree with her. Thinking about it, I realized that I have never been mean unless I’m drunk. So I’ve stopped drinking completely

 

I’m also being careful to always be respectful when I talk to her. That’s new for me, but I’m sure I can keep it up going forward. But she still keeps saying she’s not sure she can trust me again and reminds me of how I have been mean to her “repeatedly.”

 

I know she told her parents about what I said and they told her to get me out of her life. That’s not too helpful for our getting back together. They’re religious and their faith is not pro-LGBT, so they’re not happy about her being in a relationship with another girl to begin with.

 

I wish she would consider that they have an agenda and not listen to them about this. I told her so, but somehow she just got pissed off at me again. Sometimes she says she’s ready to move forward and then she turns around and says she’s not ready to recommit.

 

She’s turning 20 this summer and I was going to be joining her and her family at the beach for her birthday weekend and she keeps going back and forth over whether I can come or not. 

 

I don’t know what else to do. I’m starting to get a little exasperated but feel like I have to take whatever she dishes out if we have any hope of really getting back together. But I don’t know how long I can stand going in circles.

Michael replies:

You can’t get Jen to move in the direction you want and you can’t get her to operate on your time frame.

Jen has to decide for herself if she wants to forgive you. She can decide to make her peace with what happened, or not; to accept your amends, or not; and to move forward with you, or not.

In the meantime, while you wait for her to make up her mind, here’s what you can do:

Consider if there are more ways to make sincere amends in addition to apologizing, giving up drinking in order to reduce the likelihood you’ll mouth off going forward and monitoring yourself to always be respectful of Jen.

Decide how much is enough time for you to prove yourself as a loving and trustworthy partner going forward, before you decide you’ve had enough of having your chain yanked.

Have you asked Jen what she is looking for in order to make her decision? Her answer might help you decide how long you want to wait.

I’m not suggesting you leave this relationship. That’s your call and no one else’s. But you can decide at some point that you’ve done your best for a long enough time and that you find it too painful to keep being reeled in and out, or reminded of your past bad behavior.

If you get to that point, you can tell Jen to let you know when she’s made up her mind about what she wants to do. At that time, if she does want to be with you and you are available, the two of you can move forward more happily.

From your letter, it sounds like Jen has her own work to do in terms of learning how to deal with hurt and disappointment, both of which are inevitable in any relationship. And like most of us, she may also need to get better at living her life the way she wants in the face of her parents’ disapproval. But that is her challenge to take on, or not.

You and Jen are young. And the only way to learn how to manage yourself in the ups and downs of a relationship is to struggle through experiences such as this, as you are doing now.

You are using this painful experience to take stock of yourself, admit your shortcomings and set higher standards for yourself going forward. If any of us are to become better human beings, this is what we must do. Admirable work on your part.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post Young lesbian takes her time deciding if she’ll forgive snarky comment appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
ADVICE: He’s afraid to say ‘I love you’ to boyfriend http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/05/05/advice-hes-afraid-to-say-i-love-you-to-boyfriend/ Sat, 05 May 2018 19:00:59 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=41124345 22-year-old weighs pros and cons of being first to utter fateful words

The post ADVICE: He’s afraid to say ‘I love you’ to boyfriend appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>
love you, gay news, Washington Blade

Who is the first to utter the fateful words?

Michael,

 

I’m 22 and in my first real relationship with another guy.

 

I think we’re at a standstill because neither of us has said, “I love you.”

 

I’m scared to say it unless I know he feels the same way. What if he doesn’t? I would be so embarrassed about being premature or misreading him.

 

I think he does love me — he’s very sweet and romantic and looks really happy whenever we’re together.  Last week was my birthday and he sent flowers to my office! But I’m still scared he might not be “there” yet.

 

When I was in high school another boy and I were really close. We were always hanging out together (nothing physical). I was in the closet and didn’t come out to him, or him to me, and in junior year his family moved away. I had really intense feelings and wanted to tell him I loved him, but I was afraid I might be wrong and he wouldn’t talk to me again or would tell people I was gay.

 

I know this isn’t the same situation at all. Jeremy and I are boyfriends and it’s clear we like each other a lot. But I’m still scared of making myself vulnerable and then feeling foolish.

 

When I think about telling Jeremy I love him, I can’t help thinking that he hasn’t said, “I love you” to me either. Maybe he’s scared, too. That’s hard for me to believe, because he is a very confident guy. So then I think if I tell him and he doesn’t feel that way he will see me as needy or clingy and dump me.

 

But right now it just feels to me like there’s some barrier that we have to cross if we’re going to really be a couple. I’d like to cross it but I’m scared of ruining what we have right now or feeling like a fool.

 

Thoughts?

Michael replies:

You can either have an intimate relationship or be safe. Take your pick.

Intimacy means letting someone know you well. This includes stuff you might get judged on, such as saying “I love you” when you’re the only one who feels that way. So if you want to be in a close relationship, you have to be up for facing rejection, disappointment and heartbreak at times. There’s no way around this.

Yes, I know it’s scary to go out on a limb, but you do love Jeremy and you want this relationship to move forward. Here’s your opportunity to advance.

I have to say, from your description, it does seem likely that Jeremy will be glad to hear your words. He sounds like a sweetheart who cares a lot about you. But you do not get a guarantee as to how he will respond. 

That’s true for everyone in life. We all have to take chances and do what we think is right without knowing how it’s going to turn out.

Of course, you could wait for Jeremy to tell you he loves you before you tell him how you feel. That would certainly be the safer route, because you’d eliminate the risk of his not reciprocating your feelings. 

But it may be that Jeremy is also scared to tell you. If you each are waiting for the other person to make the first move, you’re going to have a long wait. Why should you not be the one to go first? 

Keep in mind that this isn’t the only time you’re going to face a situation like this, where you believe it’s important that you speak up about something, but are scared about the outcome. 

Taking a pass now won’t make it any easier to do this down the road. But if you do tell Jeremy how you feel, you will learn that you can survive making a scary move without knowing how it will turn out. Because no matter how Jeremy responds, you will survive. Going through this experience will help you to make similar moves going forward.

If you’re going to be in a strong and solid relationship, you need to be able to handle the possibility of disappointment, and soothe yourself when things don’t go the way you’d like. Perhaps the coolest and most spiritual gift of being in a relationship is that you are handed one opportunity after another to become more resilient. You are being handed such an opportunity now.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

The post ADVICE: He’s afraid to say ‘I love you’ to boyfriend appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

]]>