Mental Health Advice: Dr. Darcy Sterling

Letting go of past relationships

Dear Dr. Darcy,

I have recently discovered that I find it really difficult to let go of a ‘failed’ relationship. I get myself so involved with the other person’s life and feelings that they feel like part of me within a very short time. This has happened twice in the past four months.

I came out as a lesbian only six months ago and since then, my emotions have been very hard to control. It’s as if I’ve been waiting my whole life to fall in love with a woman—and when that has happened, it’s been overwhelming and quite possibly scary for the other person.

My question is: Why is it difficult for me to let go, and will it always be like this? –Newbie

Welcome to the land of Lesbos, Newbie. It’s very common to fall hard (particularly in the beginning) because, as you said, you’ve been waiting your whole life to be with a woman. That’s completely valid, as is your sense that it’s “quite possibly scary for the other person.”

Now we don’t want you to turn into a little creep, looking like a stalker every time a hot girl kisses you and sends you a text. You need some game. I know you’re excited and you want to start imagining U-Haul day, but that will scare the other person away—no matter how into you she is. It’s OK to feel one way and behave another way. That’s what emotionally intelligent people do.

You can do all the fantasizing you’d like, but don’t share those fantasies with her on the first few dates. Pace yourself. Let her pursue you. Whether we know it or not, we all like to chase a little. It creates excitement. So let at least five minutes pass before responding to texts. Let her initiate at least half of the communication. Don’t share every thought that pops into your head. Allow there to be some mystery.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t know if you’ll always be this way, but I’ll tell you this: If you can build some emotional muscles, i.e., become more capable of pacing yourself with women, it won’t feel as difficult after some time. It’s like going to the gym. The first time you go, you probably can’t run three miles, but after some training you’re able to. That’s not to say that a three-mile run isn’t challenging—but it won’t feel as challenging to your well-conditioned body as it did on the first day. You’ll be fine, Baby Dyke. You just need to develop some self-control.


Dr. Darcy Sterling is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her practice, Alternatives Counseling, specializes in LGBT issues and is located in New York City. Dr. Darcy’s clinical style is very direct, goal-oriented and pragmatic. For years, the media has been drawn to her unique personality. She has provided expert commentary for networks including E! Entertainment and has worked with television producers throughout the nation. Her blog,, provides free advice to members of the LGBT community. Email questions to or call 212-604-0144.

*This column is not a consultation with a mental health professional and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own therapist or counselor.

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