Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Woman, Boyfriend, and Gay Pal

Dear Gay "Dr. Bill",
I found your extremely interesting blog today and read through quite a few of the questions and your answers to them.  I am a 59 year old woman who has been going with a man 'Nick' for the last 4 years. He was very understanding and let me be me and have my space for the first few years and then became quite demanding and possessive, especially of my time. He started asking questions about what I was going to do that day, what I was doing at work, who I had seen and/or talked to the day before. My best friend is a gay man 'Mark' and Nick kept trying to break up our friendship. We went around and around about the demanding attitude Nick had and the need he had to see me break off contact with Mark. He said it hurt him that I did not take his feelings into account. It got so bad that I felt every time Mark and I talked or did anything with each other I had to keep it a secret, because if I was honest and told Nick about it he would get upset, angry and act hurt. This continued to the point where I felt I was being stalked because Nick would check up on where I was by driving around our small town trying to find my car! If he couldn't find it he would call or text and ask where I was. I started to feel that I had to look over my shoulder, because he was always checking up on me to see if I was seeing Mark. I broke off contact with him because of this behavior and told him I would not give up my best friend for him nor would I be controlled or intimidated. We were apart for about 2 months and then he wrote me a letter and said that he was seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist and was dealing with his problems and had changed. I agreed to go for coffee with him and he met me with flowers. We spoke both on the phone and by email several times after that and had lunch together and went to a show. Things seemed to be good between us again and he continued to see the doctors and we even went to a couples therapist for a while. He was doing well as far as not asking about my job, what I had done that day and whether I had seen or talked to Mark for about 5 months. Now he has gone back to wanting to know if I have talked to Mark, if we have been out to lunch together or if I have gone to his house for coffee. I feel like I am going around and around on the same carousel over and over again and I don't know what to do. What is your take on this behavior? Is this a control thing, a homophobic thing? My heart wants to believe that Nick can change his way of feeling about Mark, but my gut tells me to run like hell. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated, or if you need to know more about this situation in order to get a better grasp of it let me know. Thank you!

The first thing that strikes me about this is that "Nick" is jealous of "Mark," but it's difficult to tell if it's because he's envious of the closeness the two of you share as friends, or if he's paranoid about the truth of your relationship with Mark; in other words, he may be afraid that Mark is really straight or bisexual and the two of you have or want more than a platonic relationship. If Mark is stereotypically gay -- that is a little "queeny," [not to put him down for that]  -- the latter possibility is fairly unlikely. If Mark is a more or less masculine guy, than Nick may be afraid he's not totally gay [people do tend to think in stereotypical terms]. If this is the problem, having you and Mark sit down with Nick and tell him that your relationship is, and always will be, platonic, could be a big help. But first of all ask Nick if that is what he's afraid of. [The stalking business and the need he has for you to break off with Mark does indicate a kind of pathological jealousy.]

Gay men and straight women can have very close friendships, and Nick may feel as if he's on the outside looking in, that you share more of your inner feelings and desires with Mark instead of him. He may fear you are simply closer to Mark than you are to him. There's also the possibility that Nick may think, rightly or wrongly, that Mark doesn't like him, doesn't approve of him, thinks you could do better, or has some negative opinion of him for one reason or another. While it's rare, some gay men have negative attitudes toward straight guys [sometimes because they perceive the straight guy as being disapproving of them; sometimes not]. Nick may fear that when you and Nick are alone, the two of you are putting him down.

Then there's the simple possibility that Nick just doesn't like Mark because he's gay. Did Nick make any negative remarks about gay people before he found out your best friend was gay? Something about Mark may make Nick nervous; he could be dealing with sexual identity issues of his own [not to necessarily say that he is gay or closeted].

You might bring this all up with Nick and see what kind of reaction you get. If the two of you can have a meaningful dialogue and come to some understanding, so much the better. If he can accept that Mark is a good friend and will always be a part of your life, all three of you will be much happier. If you just can't get through to him, if he over-reacts or rages, then he is dealing with issues that you probably don't need to deal with.

If you have any follow up questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

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