Nice to meet you! Now help me with this problem.

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So, I know we haven’t had any formal introductions yet and all, but it’s because of this issue that I started/restarted this blog. I need to unload all these feelings, and what better place than the interwebs. We’ll get to the social niceties later, I promise. In the meantime, nothing like starting off with a bang.

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I think in the lesbian world it’s far easier to get away with flirting with someone in a committed relationship than it would be in the heterosexual world. If a straight man sees another guy groping or pressing up against his wife or girlfriend, you can bet he’s going to say or do something. It just isn’t done. Why then, does it seem more permissible among some gay girls?

I am facing this issue with a mutual (single) friend of my partner’s and mine. She has a lot in common with my partner, and I know she feels comfortable joking with her. She actually does this with both of us, but because she is a mini-me of my partner she seems to do it more often with her. Along with the teasing, there is some grabbing and full-body hugging, again to both of us. After the last time she did this to me, I decided it was crossing the line and told myself I wouldn’t let it happen again.

I like her — she’s fun to be around — but I am personally not comfortable with anyone pressed up against me in that way except for my partner. My partner used to be the total opposite of touchy-feely back when she was closeted, so it surprises me that she lets this friend get away with grabbing her. My thoughts are that because she hasn’t been in a relationship in 25 years or so, she hasn’t had to set boundaries. On top of that, being closeted caused her to build walls, and she gave off those “do not touch” signals very well. Now that she’s out, she is more comfortable with sharing herself.

I honestly believe this friend is not interested in my partner (or me) in THAT WAY. She’s like a big, eager puppy dog and acts the same way with other people in our group — even the straight married women. I also think if my partner and she were both single, they would not get together. So, I don’t think what I’m feeling is jealousy. I can be jealous, something that piggybacks on my insecurity, so that was the first place I went when I was trying to figure out what was bothering me about this whole deal.

After a lot of thought, I figured out that what I’m feeling is annoyance, irritation at the lack of respect for a relationship that took a long time to build. I know this friend admires what my partner and I have and wants the same for herself. She has told me this. I don’t think she means harm.

But.

My partner and I had to go through a lot to be together — my divorce, a two-year long-distance relationship, our coming out to our families and friends (including my children), my cross-country move after leaving a job I really loved. In between all of this, there were many tears, rough moments, misunderstanding and so many things to work through. Thanks to a lot of love and patience, we are now happily living our life together. Family, work, play — our lives are entwined.

That someone thinks they have earned the right to take any shortcuts is irritating to me. I think there should be clear boundaries of what is and isn’t allowed, gently communicated, mind you. I think these boundaries should be constant, no matter who is doing the talking or touching or hugging or grabbing. My partner doesn’t agree with me on this. She thinks this friend is harmless and that because she does things in a joking manner, we should overlook them. She think we should have different boundaries for others who might have ulterior motives. I think it’s a slippery slope and to rely on pure judgement leaves too much room for miscommunication.

Because women are more touchy-feely, we think nothing of hugging, kissing or touching another woman as a way to express our feelings. It’s natural to us, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than simple affection. But, if there aren’t any boundaries in place, the waters can definitely get murky.

It’s happened so many times before.

So this is my struggle.

I am a big believer in boundaries and in respecting my relationship. It’s why I didn’t accept a certain Facebook friend request. It’s why I avoid being alone with certain people who tend to cross the line. It’s why I do my best not to put myself in situations that can be or turn iffy.

Even though I can put my own boundaries in place, I can’t draw them around my partner. I feel it’s her place to say what can or cannot happen to her body, what is acceptable to her and how she chooses to honor our relationship.

This isn’t a new problem in the lesbian world, at least according to Google, who patiently answered the questions I had about the subject. It’s one of the biggest causes of the dreaded lesbian drama, something I thought at our age we were beyond. Not that there’s drama — yet. But unless we come up with clear-set boundaries we can both agree upon, I can see this problem coming up again.

And again.

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