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Thursday, August 15, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: The Girlfriend's Night(s) Out

Posted by Dan Savage on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 10:29 AM

I am a lesbian-identified female from the midwest and have been seriously dating my partner for 17 months now and I have a recurring jealousy that has been plaguing me since I moved to the same city as my partner about a year ago.

She works in the restaurant industry and two or three nights a week she goes out for drinks with co-workers and other friends after work.

Backstory: I have a young child, who is a result of an unhealthy heterosexual relationship I had before I came out. My partner has fully jumped onto the parenting bandwagon with me and we are very open about the challenges that come along with being a parent and some of the sacrifices that go along parenting. (Yes, I said it, sacrifices. I love my child and I would like to retain some of my adult life, but I have had to give up some activities/freedoms in order to be a fully committed and responsible parent.) We are going slow with moving in together because we want to make a responsible decision. I would like to be married before we move in together.

I moved to the same city as my partner a year ago because it was a good decision not only for our relationship, but also for my child. I work during the day and my partner works at night and we've had to work really hard setting up a schedule that allows us to spend time together. (I can be a more needy lesbian and my partner likes her freedom). I have found during the last year that I am resenting the adult time that my partner takes when she is done with work because I want to be going out with her every once in a while, too, which has been challenging because babysitters are not cheap. We do have date nights but it always seems to be me that initiates them and me that arranges for the babysitter.

I have shared my feelings with her, made an effort to get a babysitter on nights that she works to go out with her afterwards, and asked if she might be willing to come home to spend time with me every once in a while, but my feelings are still not going away because she is still going out so much. I don't know what other compromises to make at this point and want to know if I am over-reacting and being super needy.

Craving Midwest Bluntness

My response after the jump...

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I have a bias that I should probably disclose upfront. It's not a queer-parent bias (although I am a queer parent), or a gay-relationship bias (although I'm in one of those myself), or a partner-who-sometimes-works-nights bias (although my huzzzben is a DJ).

No, it's a food-industry-worker bias.

I waited tables for years, CMB, and somehow managed to put myself through college on tips and Top Ramen. (College was cheaper then.) And here's something I remember about waiting tables or tending bar or busing or basically doing any job in the restaurant industry: at the end of a long shift... you're fucking wired. It doesn't matter if it's 2 p.m. and the lunch shift just ended or it's 2 a.m. and the dinner shift just ended. You can't just go home and fall into bed. So going out and having a few drinks with your coworkers isn't something you do for fun (although it is fun), it's something you do because you must.

Cooks are crazy, managers are demanding, customers are crazy and demanding. Waiting tables winds you the fuck up. After a shift you have to go somewhere and do something to wind yourself the fuck down. Now I didn't always go out drinking after my shifts—I was trying to save money for college—but I always went somewhere and did something. During the summers, when I would wait tables at home in Chicago (memories of Cafe du Parc), I would leave work at midnight or 1 a.m. and ride my bike up and down Chicago's lakefront bike paths for an hour or two before heading home. If I had gone straight home instead... well, I don't know what I would've done if I'd gone straight home instead because I never went straight home. Not once.

That said, CMB, I can certainly appreciate your frustration. You moved to a new city to spend more time with your new girlfriend and you're not seeing her as much as you would like to. And her relative freedom rubs your nose in your parental responsibilities—responsibilities she's stepped up to, as your girlfriend, but does not yet shoulder equally.

But resenting her for enjoying more "adult time" will only undermine your relationship. So long as your girlfriend isn't getting wasted, so long as she's not blowing all her tips on booze, so long as she's still there for you when it counts, don't guilt her over the time she needs to unwind after those long and stressful shifts. Instead keep finding babysitters when you can—and arranging for sitters is, I'm sorry to say, pretty much your sole-ish responsibility. At least until you live together. It's your kid, after all, you and the girlfriend don't live together yet, and you would probably prefer to to vet your kid's sitters personally for the time being regardless, right? But you could ask your girlfriend to check with the trusted busboys or barbacks at her restaurant to see if any would be interested in making a few extra bucks doing some easy, post-shift babysitting gigs (kid's already in bed, right?).

And if your kid isn't a light sleeper, CMB, you could lay in some bottles of wine and cheap booze and encourage your girlfriend to bring her coworkers by your place after a shift once a week. You'll see a lot more of her if your apartment is the place where the gang goes to unwind—and you'll be making some new friends in your new town.

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