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Dear Dr. Frankie,

I have been “taking it slow” for a month and a half with a girl that was previously my friend. Several months ago she got out of a seven-year relationship; I know she still has feelings for her ex. She also slept with another close friend almost two moths ago. She used to always tell me she wants to be with me, but she treats the other girl she slept with like a princess compared to me. She recently got evicted and is living with her ex. She doesn’t talk to me as often as she used to, and we live two hours away from each other. Ever since her best friend kept pushing her to ask me out she’s been pushing me away. I know she has a lot on her mind right now with the eviction, but she can’t tell me if she still wants to be with me or not. She keeps her feelings so bottled up it’s hard to get her to talk to me about us. Does it sound like I’m wasting my time? Should I stick it out and just try to be there for her until it’s over and she can figure it out? By the way she’s never been in a relationship with someone who didn’t cheat on her or beat the crap out of her, so she’s not used to someone treating her right. I think that the idea of being with someone like me who can treat her right actually scares her—and ultimately makes her push me away.

Dear Confused and in Love,

It sounds like you are interested in someone who has a pattern of dating women who are emotionally unavailable. By this I mean women who are unable to love and care for her in a healthy way. People repeat unhealthy patterns because they are familiar and comfortable, even in spite of their better judgment. It seems as if this woman does not feel that she deserves anything better than what’s she’s experienced. The fact that you treat her well is unfamiliar, which means less comfortable, to her even though it is the healthier choice.

People who seek a pattern of unhealthy relationships get used to receiving very little. Some also feel they have the ability to heal their abusers by showing them unconditional love. This of course comes at their own expense, and creates an imbalanced and unhealthy dynamic in the relationship. They accept crumbs of love and respect rather than enjoying their own pie.

This woman clearly has a lot on her plate right now. She’s dealing with being homeless and is staying with her ex. She also happens to be two hours away, and has recently been involved with at least one other woman. To me these are all signs that you should focus on yourself for the time being and engage in activities that are good for you. Give her space and a chance to recognize that you are better for her than the abusive women she is typically drawn to. I suggest maintaining a healthy distance; this does not mean you need to cut off contact with her, just move on with your own life. If she is able to be your friend through this then perhaps you have a chance of having a more significant relationship. From my experience, when people are so deeply entrenched in this pattern of unhealthy relationships, it takes professional guidance to effect lasting, positive change.

The one thing I know for sure is that waiting around and expecting to meet someone in a small gay community isn’t the way to go. Step out of your comfort zone and start making new connections and relationships outside of your area.  If all else fails then consider relocating. It’s a huge decision but what better motivation than the real possibility of finding love and human companionship?

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