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Dear Dr. Frankie,

I finally found the quote of yours that I have been perplexed about: “You probably want to get a sense of whether she’s had long-term, healthy, intimate relationships, whether she’s had positive experiences in her relationships and whether she and her ex maintained a friendship after the breakup” I get why this would be revealing, but sooooo many gay women have unhealthy boundary issues with their exes. The fact that the woman you’re writing about is still intertwined with her ex on a daily basis, and they even vacation together is a red flag to me.

No one, gay or straight, who I’ve asked why they cheated ever said it was planned. They always said it was an accident. It “just” happened yet when you look at all the times they gave place to thoughts/physicality for intimacy it was NO accident. Example: I was at a PRIDE party last year and sat next to a chick I’ve seen on Match.com so I knew she was single. While we were engaged in conversation I found out her ex had spent the night before at her place, in the same bed, but…oh…they put a pillow between them and nothing happened. *rolls eyes* And it wasn’t the baby’s mama.

So I’m wondering what is a healthy distance for an ex, because I don’t even know where mine are. I also do not have any desire to chat with them or have them in my life at all. I find it’s the most effective way to move on and not still have those emotional attachments that lead to emotional cheating first……

—Boundaries Needed

Dear Boundaries,

A rule of thumb that can help guide you is to be aware of any extremes. For example, if you meet someone who is so close to her ex that she’s going on vacations with her, using a pillow to delineate sides of the bed, prioritizing her ex over you, and texting her ex on a daily basis, one could reasonably conclude that they are enmeshed. By this I mean they share an unhealthy attachment. This would be red flag 101 indicating someone with poor boundaries. On the other end of the spectrum, someone who severs any and all connection with every ex, no matter how significant the relationship, can also be a red flag.

Life is not black and white. A healthy person with healthy boundaries should be able to maintain some connection with at least one of her ex’s, even if that means the connection is really distant and they’re just Facebook “friends”. It would concern me if I was dating someone who had had several long term relationships but was completely estranged from all of her ex’s. When someone has a strong, healthy romantic relationship with another person over a period of time, the end of the romance doesn’t mean they need to disconnect completely. Time passes, people change, and assuming all parties involved are well-intentioned and healthy, there should be room for relationships to evolve. Part of living a full, healthy life is being open to what life has to teach you. My advice would be don’t cut your nose off to spite your face, stay open to life’s experiences and the lessons we can all learn along the way.

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