Open Thread: The Perils of Being a First Girlfriend

Hello and welcome to another feelings-rich Formspring Friday-type thing! On Tuesday!

 

Q:
I’m the first girl my girlfriend has been with. We’ve been together for a year and a half. Last night she said sometimes she is worried about never having been with another girl and constantly has ‘what if’ questions. Am I right to be as scared as I am?

A:
Seems that way, yes. I mean, are you still with your first girlfriend..? Yeah, so there’s a chance this won’t last forever, but let’s be realistic – are you having fun with her now? Do you love every minute and look forward to the next one? Are you happy? Because if you’re shaking your head YES to these questions, I think you should put all your fears aside and let ‘being happy in this moment’ be the feeling you put a spotlight on.

ADVERTISEMENT

Alternatively, you could approach her with the idea of a semi-open relationship, in which she could have physical relationships with other girls while still maintaining her emotional and physical relationship with you. I’ve seen this work fairly well for more than one couple. I guess it’s worth noting that none of those couples are still together, but things didn’t end because of any problems with their semi-open arrangement – sometimes relationships just don’t work out.

Which is kind of the point, actually. Your relationship has the potential to end due to any number of issues, both known and unknown, and that’s just the chance you take when you smash your heart together with someone else’s. It’s the chance we all take! Fun, right?

 

Share your advice / stories / feelings for this lady-lovin’ question-asker in the comments!

Have a question? Ask Laneia something small or large. Or, you know, Riese, Rachel, Alex, Crystal, Jess or Taylor! But not Tinkerbell because she forgot her password.

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here.

Laneia has written 919 articles for us.

94 Comments

  1. Have a question? Ask Laneia something small or large. Or, you know, Riese, Rachel, Alex, Crystal, Jess or Taylor!

    Be sure to ask Crystal whether she’s dating Sara Quin. I hear she likes that.

  2. I think you have to be veeerrrrrryyy careful in approaching the open-relationship issue. Does the girlfriend only fear about not being PHYSICAL with anyone else, or is she scared about missing out on actually having a full-fledged romantic relationship with someone else with the emotional and physical aspect? Because you cannot fix the desire to have an emotional attachment to someone else by just letting her screw other people.

    #projecting

    • An open relationship doesn’t have to be about screwing other people. People can and do have more than one emotional, romantic connection. If the original relationship is in some way broken no, polyamory/open won’t fix it. But if it’s just a desire to branch out along with a genuine desire to stay with the original partner, why deny herself the latter to go after the former?

      • I was following this to establish the definition of an open (or, to be correct, “semi-open”): “Alternatively, you could approach her with the idea of a semi-open relationship, in which she could have ++physical++ relationships with other girls while still maintaining her emotional and physical relationship with you.”

        You do have a point though, so I acknowledge that, hence my re-iteration. Still, it’s a worthy consideration for someone in this situation.

  3. I am my gf’s first girlfriend, and I think the hardest thing is that all of her friends give her a hard time about never having been with anyone else. We’ve been together for enough time that other people would call our relationship “serious” and so they ask her things like “are you sure you want to settle down already?!” But the thing is, neither of us feels like we are settling down. We enjoy each other’s company and have lots of adventures and don’t see any reason to break up, so we haven’t. And that’s all there is to it. If one or both of you at some point feels like they don’t want to be in the relationship anymore for whatever reason, then you can address it. In the meantime, try not to worry!

  4. It’s like this thread was made for my life. I have had this awful pattern of dating only girls who have never even kissed a girl before. I fall madly in love with them and then they dump me because they have crazy expectations of what relationships are supposed to be like or because they’re afraid of committing so soon after coming out. Plus I have to reteach basic sex techniques over and over again. My friends think it’s hilarious, but it’s ruining my life.

  5. First I wondered what the what-if was/

    Is she saying what if this means I never get to sleep with someone else/this means I will never know what it’s like to fall in love with someone else/I wanna date someone else in four years/months/minutes

    Or is she saying what if saying what if all the time you get sick of me/find me not experienced enough/you want a threesome, etc.

    I suppose it doesn’t really matter which it is. I agree with just have fun and all the other stuff she said and

    pick a time you are feeling calm(er), examine what exactly is making you scared and decide if you want it to have that much power/influence in your daily life with her.

  6. My girlfriend and I are each other’s first girlfriends … or boyfriends, for that matter. We’ve never dated anyone else, slept with anyone else, lived with anyone else or anything else’d anyone else.

    We’ve been together for almost a decade, and honestly, I’ve never felt like I was missing something by not going through a series of up-and-down, sitcom-style relationships. But I’m not the dating type, neither is she, and we were very good friends before we entered into any sort of romantic relationship, so I think we knew going into it what we should expect from one another. My best friend and his wife are in the same situation. They started dating during their freshman year of college and married a few years after graduation, and neither of them had dated anyone prior to that. None of us set out to find spouses on the first shot — it just seems we have some sort of beginners’ luck.

    I’m not advocating this situation for anyone else, and I can understand the instinct toward wondering what else is out there. That’s just one of about a billion reasons a relationship can end, and sometimes there’s nothing to be done to prevent it. But I certainly don’t think first-time relationships are always doomed to fail.

  7. This is what I tell my girlfriend when she worries about me or her wanting to have other relationships because we are both each other’s first girlfriend:

    I am happy with you right now and I can’t imagine being happier. Just because you’re my first doesn’t mean that I think that I’m missing something else incredible out there by being with you [she worries that I am missing out on better people by being with her] and just because you’re my first doesn’t mean we can’t have an amazing relationship, however long it lasts. Thinking about “what ifs” is not enjoying what you have, but thinking about the future with someone you are in love with, even if that is the first person you have loved, is never futile. If it stops working, we can deal with it then; while we work so well together, I just want to be with you.

  8. I’m her first any/everything, and she’s my first girlfriend/serious relationship. I guess it was a little easier for us because, even though we’ve only officially been going out for less than 6 months, we were kind of emotionally together without giving it a label other than “friendship” for over two years. I do have minor freak-outs about the possibility that we’ll break up, but the reminder that, hey, we’re happy right now calms me.

    I think focusing on what a relationship is instead of what it isn’t is pretty crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship, no matter of what nature.

    • Are you me?

      I’m her first any/everything and she’s my first girlfriend/serious relationship as well. We’ve been dating for a little under six months but became best friends/ hugely codependent/ emotionally unavailable for other people when we first met (about a year and a half before I finally asked her out (after I did she said she’d been waiting for at least six months)). And yeah, I have minor freak outs occasionally because we’re both new at this and don’t always know what we’re doing, but she knows me and she gets me and we’re both committed to making this work, and at the end of the day I figure that’s all we can hope for.

      • AH> ARE YOU ME???

        Ditto the first statement. Except that it’s almost been 2 years.And she came on to me after I came out to her. Those “straight” girls are something else. We’re working it out but alas, the issue of dating other people has come up on both ends, partially because after a 1 1/2 years, one begins to feel a little married.

        • EMOTIONAL/RELATIONSHIP SISTERS~

          Just to illustrate how much I couldn’t date anyone else after having met her, I actually went out with one of my other friends last year, but things ended so quickly between him and me because I couldn’t imagine myself being so affectionate at all – not hugging him, not holding hands with him, nothing. I was just always embarrassed, and I didn’t really even tell anyone. At the same time, she and I were super close friends and we’d cuddle while watching movies and feed each other and other such things. It’s kind of amazing that I didn’t realize my feelings for her until about 8 months later. True, I still feel a little reserved about telling people, but that’s more because of a fear that we’ll be looked down upon. While I might be okay-ish with it, I don’t want her to have to go through that. This fear is more political than emotional.

          Also, I want to preface this by saying that I’m a total skeptic and don’t believe in destiny or whatnot, but I think if you really want to be together, even after having mutually decided to see other people, you’ll naturally gravitate towards each other because of the emotional chemistry.

  9. My girlfriend is my first girlfriend and I know she worries about me wanting to move on but we’ve been friends for 3 years before we got together so it’s unlikely i’ll come across any major surprises and I see no reason for the relationship to end anytime soon.

  10. i would like to point out that today is my first long term girlfriend’s birthday (whom i’m not with, but am still bestfriends with.) and she taught me everything i know about homogayness. so just try to set it up to where you can still be friends? idk.

  11. My first girlfriend is one of, if not my best, queer friends. (Cause I categorize my friends depending on their sexual orientation.) So there’s that.

    Sad part is you dwelling too much on it may be something that pushes her away. Like your fear will actually come true because you can’t stop thinking about how afraid you are of it.

  12. Almost every gf I have had I was their first. Just remember even if it dosent last you will always be her first. And we all know everyone will remember their first, and the last.

    • Thank you for saying that, that consoles me a little.

      That seems to be a pattern with me too, and this most recent one actually told me ‘she would always wonder “what if”‘. Three years, nothing wrong with the relationship, she just wants to be single ‘for a while’ *shrugs*

      We should start a club.

  13. I’ve been with my girlfriend for seven months now and she’s my first everything, pretty much. I mostly worry that not having any past experience means I don’t really know if we have a good or healthy relationship or if this is really love. I also grew up without any healthy adult relationships to learn from, so I don’t even feel like I have that to fall back on.

  14. (I’ve been looking for anyone resembling my girlfriend in the whole comment section. We are you.)

    She’s my first, I’m her first serious one. I love her the way only teenagers can. I have for years.
    We moving away for university. We always planned on splitting up because of the distance that will put between us. We thought we’d meet other people, explore, figure stuff out and maybe, hopefully, find each other again. Now that it’s drawing closer, I’m just so afraid of losing her. I always imagined myself having a string of exes, but honestly, I don’t need any of that. She’s perfect. She was the first person I touched/kissed/fucked/loved. I’d be perfectly happy with her being the only one. I don’t think it’s up to me, though.

    I’m sorry about all the feelings. I’m on cold-meds.

  15. For awhile I had a real problem with being a first girlfriend. 4 out of the 5 women I’ve dated I’ve been their first. I really thought it was a curse, they all had ridiculous expectations and for a long time I felt like a starter kit. ( I remember crying a lot after break ups about my starter kit theory haha). I felt like we would be in a relationship long enough for them to really get comfortable with themselves and then they decide, even though they had no experience with anyone else, that the grass must be greener with someone else. I feel like I have created some really great girlfriends…for other people…you’re welcome. Haha.

    But I realized that I had this fear of them having the “what if feeling” and that worry of mine probably led them to think I didn’t trust them or whatever. I guess I’m over it now, dating another girl (I’m her first again) and things are going great. I’ve made the decision not to let fears of if she’ll get curious ruin the fact that I’m really happy now. I know some people have a policy of not being someone’s first, because first usually don’t last but I feel like the dating pool is already too small to have that be a deal breaker.

  16. I broke up with my first girlfriend this past March. I was her first serious girlfriend. We were together for 3.5 years. It was only after I ended it following a sudden crisis of faith / momentous fight that brought a lot of hidden feelings to the surface that I realized just how much I had lied to myself to keep the relationship together. She was my first. I assumed she’d be the only. There didn’t seem to be any other option. So I convinced myself I’d be ok with this complicated life that I didn’t really want. When I suddenly realized in a middle of the night epiphany that the relationship wasn’t right and should end, it was like an orgasm of relief.

    Although I don’t regret the decision because I know it was right, I still feel a significant amount of guilt. It hit her by surprise. When I ended it, she thought I wasn’t serious and later sent me messages about how shocked she was by my emotional coldness and the fact I didn’t try to “win her back”. She has refused to see me since the breakup. I’ve had to awkwardly leave bags of her things on the doorstep at times pre-arranged by texts. I don’t blame her for being angry. I deserve it. I led her on. I didn’t mean to – I lied to myself so completely that only now do I realize just how much I’d changed to try to make it work. She’s at a stage in her life where she wants to start a family. I don’t. Ever. I finally admitted that to myself. And now I’ve left her alone with her biological clock ticking like a nuclear time bomb.

    So now I go down in history as “that girl”. The girlfriend from hell, fulfilling all those first girlfriend fears. Funny – my ex was never afraid of any of that stuff.

      • She lived with her mom… at age 30. I wanted her to move in and we were actually engaged for almost 2 years… There were a lot of issues. She had a ton of emotional problems and I thought I could fix them, but I couldn’t. When it was just the two of us we were perfect. But it was never going to be just the two of us. In the end I felt like she chose her mother over me.

  17. Maybe this is irrelevant, but my dad was my mom’s first boyfriend, and they’ve been married to 38 years now. In my opinion it doesn’t matter what the number is, as long as you’re in love and you have a connection.

  18. I’m eternally the “first girl” but never an actual girlfriend. It’s a really depressing pattern that I need to break. I get all of the bad points of being a first, and none of the good points of actually having a relationship.

    • ujpofe8sam;kfzsd (that was my face on the keyboard)

      Yes.

      This is almost always me. I hate it. I have very, very high hopes that the next girl I do anything with is not a girlgin who then freaks out.

  19. Dear all of you, I’m my girlfriends first girlfriend. I feel like is using the word girlfriend too many times. This page says girlfriend 35 times so far.
    MOVING ON.

    We’ve been together for a million years and lived together for three and have a dog and a kitty cat named charlie who is white and orange and really cuddly. She was scared in the beginning, but I just let whatever happened happen and look?
    Sometimes stuff doesn’t work out and that sucks, but have hope. If you live your whole life worrying about what the person your with is thinking, or if they don’t love you, or if they don’t want what you want, everyone is going to be miserable and afraid. Just live. It’ll be okay, even if your heart gets broken, you’ll be okay. You’ll find someone else, and then maybe even 5 or 1453435 more someone elses and eventually you’ll find 1 person who no matter what their past entails wants you and you’ll want them and then you’ll get a kitten and name it charlie.

    Everything will work out.

  20. I’m currently in my first “serious” relationship with my gf. I have a tendency for falling for straight women *sigh* so far it’s amazing. Hands down the best relationship I’ve ever had. We are totally in love and plan our life out in the whole cheesy way. I think it’s important to just take it in and enjoy it as it comes.

    On a side note do other people get annoyed when straight people or people in general always come up to you and ask why you didn’t announce your relationship to them? I’ve had that happen a lot and just wondering what people’s thoughts are on it. I’m a huge believer on love who you love. I don’t see why lesbians etc why were “expected” to announce it to the world :S

  21. I came at my first girlfriend experience not only late in life (hello late bloomers!) but she was also rebounding hard after her last gf of like two hundred millions years (also her first girlfriend) passed away. I KNEW KNEW KNEW that I was a rebound but I refused to let that get in the way of us.

    I knew we weren’t going to last forever and ever amen but that was OK by me because you can’t go into relationships thinking about how it was going to end.

    Some people are only ever with one person forever and ever amen. Some people aren’t. You have NO idea going in which it’s going to be. If you question what if what if what if and worry about not having been with anyone else then are you really enjoying the person that you’re with? Probably not.

  22. I’m my girlfriend’s first long term relationship in general. She is my first long term relationship as well, but I’ve been with several guys (last one lasted for more than 3 years). My girlfriend is really jealous of the fact that I’m more experienced on the relationship-sector. She doesn’t want me to talk to my ex boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend. We have endless talks about me being bi (I don’t consider myself bi) and going back to men (PLEASE don’t send me back to the straight world!!!). We’ve been going out for almost 2 years now and she is still afraid of me turning straight and leaving her. I don’t think she would have this fear, if she was more experienced?!

    • my ex girlfriend was really paranoid about me and boys also. she was constantly bringing up the fact that i had had sex with a dude and that i would decide to leave her for a guy. it got to the point where i would dread those talks because i felt ashamed. then she cheated on me with a couple of dudes. total fucking random/punch in the gut. along with other things, she used my experience as a reason for it, as in “we should be even”.

      i’m not saying its the same situation or that she’ll cheat on you but you should talk it out with her. ask her why she feels that way and push for honesty and don’t rely on comfort to appease her. if i could go back, thats the one thing i would have changed. i would have spoken my mind instead of being afraid of hurting her and hurting myself by allowing the slut shaming. because fear of honesty really fucked us both over in the end.

      • I like to think the fact that I’ve had sex with/dated/been in serious relationships with some dudes (quite a few, actually) just definitively rules out any desire I might ever have to “go back.” I mean, it’s been scientifically proven that that just doesn’t do it for me.

        This is where I go if/when the topic comes up, which it has not (in detail) with my girlfriend right now. That is also because she rocks.

        So. A) the logic above is a conversation ender and B) date people who rock.

  23. I try to be more realistic about things when I get into relationships. I find that I have always expected to be with a given person that I was in a relationship for forever, because that is what we all would like to think will happen. But Realistically its better to not expect forever, rather just expect simply that right now we work, we’re both happy and equally contributing to the relationship. Its sort of non sense to think that the first one is the one because it is almost unheard of that being true and working. Doesn’t mean this is a pessimistic attitude, just being honest with yourself about certain aspects of your life.

  24. Hi other Cassandra!

    Also- today my boyfriend and I decided to be in an open relationship because neither of us have ever been in another relationship, and I in particular want to get to know at least one other layday in my lifetime. Tell you if it works out. I have high hopes.

  25. And then there are the ladies who have dated many ladies and the girlfriend who is concerned that her lady can’t slow down and not keep dating many new ladies. So the key would be communication, with yourself and with your lady, and just getting down to whatchuwant and whatchucando. Then ya just do that.

  26. i have been a first girlfriend four times. three of those times, i am so far an Only Girlfriend. two of THOSE times it was because exes of mine now only date dudes. i’m still with the other one whose first girlfriend i was (am), for like three years or something, and it’s super cool.

    yaaay.

  27. I’m going to sound like the class asshole here, but I recently broke up with a girl because of everything that comes with me being her first serious girlfriend. The insecurities/fears/secrets were too much to handle. I’m not saying that it’s always like that, but as much as I wanted her, I didn’t want the baggage.

    I’ve been a first before, but never serious. I think it takes a lot of patience and/or willingness to be open in order to be someone’s first serious girlfriend.

    • I don’t think that’s assholey. I too recently stopped dating a great girl for the same reasons. She had all the crazy unrealistic expectations and wild feelings that come with a first. That’s fine, but it’s been like ten years since I’ve felt that way and I know I don’t have the patience to be as kind to her as I should while she works through that.

      I think it would be way more asshole-ish to ignore incompatibility problems just because we’re infatuated with the painfully adorable way she always loses her train of thought when she sees a dog, you know?

    • Did you smack him? I would have smacked him. I have smacked my own insensitive male best friend for similar comments, and I’m sure I will smack him again.

      Open palm, that keeps you out of jail.

  28. It breaks my heart a little to read things like “sometimes people have a policy not to be someone’s first” etc.

    I am 22 years old and came out a little bit over a year ago and have yet to have my first girlfriend. I understand, and at the same time, don’t understand the perspective. It scares me knowing (and quite frankly sucks) that I have to worry about whether I will be rejected because I am inexperienced. I feel intimidated a bit and it almost makes me want to recoil further. I try not to think about it too much and focus on the fact that I’ll meet someone when it’s right but its still in the back of my head, you know?

    Sigh.

    • You don’t have to worry about being rejected just because you haven’t had a girlfriend. I mean, you can worry if you want to, but then you should also worry about being rejected for your political views, your religious views, your language abilities, your calculus skills, your sign, and your habit of chewing with your mouth open.

      People reject potential dates for all kinds of reasons. Some people reject girls who haven’t dated a girl before, but plenty of girls don’t care about that. Date those girls. Don’t worry about the people who don’t want to date you because your socks don’t match, and don’t worry about making sure your socks match just to please them, either. Lots of people find mismatched socks charming, you know?

  29. But there are many women who have no quams about being a first. And many more who are more interested in you as a person than what sexual experiences you’ve had. And wouldn’t you prefer someone whose more interested in your character than how many women you’ve been with? Don’t recoil! There’s beautiful womyn out there waiting for you!

    • You are sweet! thank you.

      You know, I wrote that as just a.. stream of thought really. It is not something I am ridiculously afraid of. I guess I over-exaggerated when I said it makes me recoil. But since I have heard that from multiple women (several in my personal life), it does make me nervous sometimes! However, that also might be a number of factors within myself that I am nervous about and not so much about the OTHER person thinking I am their first, but myself thinking about her being MY first. If that makes sense? Heh.

  30. My girlfriend and I have been together for 3 years this month. I met her after my first serious girlfriend (or so I thought) and I’m my girlfriends first serious girlfriend. Hot mess. Anywho I’m only 17 she’s 19 and we’ve sort of grown up together. We fit so naturally the world might shift if we break up. Sure some problems came with this. Lots ofregret on my part some cold feet on her part. Either way its worked out. We aren’t that annoying couple that breaks up 24/7 and honestly it’ll work if its supposed to. If it doesn’t it wasn’t meant to be. Alwayskeep your mind and heart open (I guess I’m a kay jewelers commercial) but seriously we are happy so if you’re happy don’t reak yourself out. Ps I think I have an amazing love story I started a book on it 🙂

  31. I’m all for “happily ever afters” but if your girlfriend starts questioning your relationship of 2 years because she hasn’t been with other girls, take a step back and reevaluate your relationship.

    I personally would want my girlfriend to be thinking about a future with me… rather than what it’s like to be with the blonde schmuck standing behind me.

  32. I’m with my first girlfriend, I’m her first everything pretty much. I love her but I want emotional+physical intamcy with other people… There’s noway she’d agree to anything open and I’m really scared I’ll cheat on her and ruin our relationship. She’s so amazing and I want to talk to her about it but I’m really scared of hurting her…

  33. i broke up with my first girlfriend a year ago, got back together with her last september, broke up with her again in december, and right before we graduated college last month we slept together a bunch and now we’re “friends” but we still call each other up and say i love you and i miss you so much and she visited and held my hand (a lot). despite her affectionate behavior, when we kiss she says it’s weird and like kissing her best friend and she jokes about me not being able to move on ever or about me bringing my hypothetical new girlfriend to her (music) shows, and i am now so confused and cannot figure out how i feel or what she wants and i’m sorry if that sentence was grammatically strange. i just want her to be in my bed so i can skweez her and love her and watch bbc period dramas with her. on top of this i also have feelings for a cute boy i work with and i can’t seem to tell her. it doesn’t seem worth it because nothing has happened but i still feel like i’m keeping something from her. in the end/no matter what, though, she will always be my best friend. i guess that answers all my questions.

  34. Alright, well, I’m going to be the cynical jerk and say watch your back.

    Her not having ever been with someone else can be a serious concern IF SHE MAKES IT ONE, and the fact that she mentioned it makes it something you should take very seriously. Especially considering that the only way she is going to find out whether or not you’re “the one” is by trying to out with different people, who may then be “the one,” but even if they aren’t she will be sleeping with someone else. This is not to say that she will choose to be with someone else, but if you have been and you’re totally certain she’s right for you because you’ve had other people and they’re bad, you’ve gotta give her that freedom to understand herself sexually and emotionally in a more complete manner.

    Have faith and a little bit of trust, and hopefully it will work out for you. And if it doesn’t? It may even be okay because there might be someone out there who’s better!

  35. I’m my girlfriend’s first girlfriend, and she’s my first romantic partner/anything. So far we’ve not come across any problems like this, although I am a little bit nervous now she’s gone off to med school and I won’t be able to see her apart from occasional weekends when she comes back and holidays.

    We’ve not been together long but I can’t imagine anybody being more perfectly suited for me and I think it’s best to focus on the reasons why you’re together and enjoy each other rather than worrying about if it’ll be over soon.

    Cause if it is, well that’s kinda crappy. But try to enjoy is as much until then, chances are you’re gonna get a much longer run of it.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.