The LGBTQ Relationship Blind Spot
Her partner of 20 years was making it impossible for her to spend time with her friends. Less than an hour into the evening, the calls and texts started. The message was clear: her partner didn’t want her to be out having fun. Inevitably, she would rush home in a panic about how mad her partner would be and how she would need to spend the next day making amends.
It didn’t matter if the event was planned weeks in advance and her partner had been well aware of it. Such was the stress that it caused her that she now manages to meet up with friends no more than once a year. Even then, she pays a hefty price.
This type of post isn’t unusual among private Facebook groups. I’m in a bunch of parenting groups and women frequently post about disrespectful behaviour from their partners. The response is usually swift and there’s no hesitation for calling it out for what it is: coercive control, abuse and violence.
It can be tricky to work out what a person is seeking when they make posts like this: are they looking for advice or just wanting to vent? Sometimes the poster isn’t sure themselves but an undeniable feeling that something in their relationship isn’t sitting right compels them to reach out. This poster ended by saying that they wanted to be with their partner but “was feeling a bit frustrated”. She was struggling to articulate what was wrong and looking for help to find the words.
One thing you can usually rely on is that the poster’s experience will be validated and not questioned. What you won’t find is sympathy for the perpetrator. The difference with this post was that it was a lesbian Facebook group. While the responses came in a variety of flavours, collectively they fell far short of condemnation of the perpetrator or validation of the victim.
Some were sympathetic towards the partner who they thought was a bit insecure, perhaps with attachment issues. She was just a bit clingy. She was probably a bit hurt. A bit anxious. Having a bit of a panic. A bit co-dependent. A bit controlling. It was a bit sad that the poster was missing time with her friends. Far from providing validation, the language used minimised the experience of the poster and excused her partner’s behaviour.