Dear Gentle Butch,
I am the luckiest woman, engaged to a sweet, soft butch (my term, not hers) who loves me as much as I love her. One of the things that I love most about her is how she loves so many friends and family and builds deep, emotional relationships.
On the other hand, I open my heart to her, my kid, and just a few others.
My fiancee is willing to share just about anything about herself whereas I’m very strategic about what I share and who I share this with, too — erring on the side of caution.
Unfortunately, she shares things that are too private about me, too. And the way she represents me isn’t always right, either. For example, she told a friend that I don’t care for someone in the queer community — and although I’ve heard a bit of crap about her, I don’t personally know her, and I am publicly neutral about everyone unless they are abusers.
I think there’s a fine line between being able to process things about me with friends and making representations of me. She doesn’t get this because she’s just sharing things with people she loves.
Our relationship is based on love, trust, and consent. I know I will need to go out of my comfort zone, too. I’d appreciate strategies and vocabulary to help us get on the same page.
Dyke Disclosure Overexposure
I’m going to level with you: I’m the ‘open book-connector-person,’ and OH did I have things to learn.
It takes screwing up a few times to get it right, I think. It’s probably unavoidable.
But telling a friend that you don’t care for someone in the community, regardless of whether she misrepresented you, feels like it crossed the line from processing into gossip. That’s a fairly big screw up.
Has it affected your trust? Has it made you feel a little unsafe? Do you sometimes find yourself dreading what you will hear next?
If so, then tell her. Let her know exactly how you feel when she exposes you like this.
You say she loves lots of people and forms deep relationships. That must mean she is very empathetic, and cares about feelings and a sense of connection.
So one really important thing your fianceé needs to know is exactly how much pain this causes, and how her revealing things erodes at your trust. The very thing she fosters closeness and builds trust with in her relationships with others has the potential to harm your closeness and your relationship.
So what I would suggest is being very clear about those boundaries so she knows where not to overstep, give her categories of information you want held back.
It may be very obvious to you that she shouldn’t talk about, say, your sex life or your family of origin’s alcoholic tendencies. Not to mention whom you care or don’t care for in the community.
But it will not be obvious to her.
Talk to her. Share with her the impact these disclosures have on you emotionally. Give her clear guidelines.
And give her a release valve. People who think-through-talking-and-connecting need at least one friend they can really open up with: to complain about how you keep forgetting to unload the dishwasher but also to work through thornier issues, which may involve revealing some of your sore spots.
But she needs to ensure that it is only one or, at the most, two people she shares with this way, and that they understand this is just between them.
It may sound like I’m coming down a little hard on her, and I really do understand how confusing and even frustrating it can be to hold back when you’re a talker.
But she’s the one who needs to do most of the transforming here. Respecting a partner’s boundaries should supercede nearly all other considerations.
Your job is to be extremely clear about what you need to feel safe — and to be as forgiving as you can when she invariably messes up in the process of figuring it all out.