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Old 05-13-2012, 11:33 AM
 
155 posts, read 129,806 times
Reputation: 59
Default Simple advice needed for a complicated relationship issue.

Who knew City Data had a relationship forum?

I'm seeking advice. Obviously since I'm posting here, I'm at a loss and feel like I've exhausted (almost) all efforts in resolving the issue directly with the girlfriend. Thus, I need outside opinions to help gain insight, and intend to be as objective as I can in responding to any advice given.

Background: I'm 27, she's 21. Together now going on two years (friends for over three years), cohabiting for the last eight months. Entering this relationship, I'd had one other "serious" relationship (my first) and then several sexual flings of varying degrees. Contrastingly, I am her first everything. Personality wise, I'm very analytical, logical, and lack much emotion besides anger. I'm not a huge *******. I'm intellectually happy and moral and treat her with respect, I just lack a degree of empathy or connectedness--especially when arguments arise. Contrastingly, she is highly emotional and sensitive, more irrational, and gets (at times) uncontrollably upset. She's not insane, and can have rational and logical discussion at times, but does allow her emotions to get the best of her.

The issue: She has been (since before our relationship) 110% committed to me and has eyes for no one else. She's passionate about it. I am (and have always been) more on the fence. She's my best friend, mean's the world to me, and is incredibly sweet, but I can't quite release the "single and ready to mingle" side of me. I'm still actively attracted to and (at times) interested in other women, she's not. I like the idea of a quasi-open relationship, she hates it. My uncertainty manifests itself in a desire to look at porn and "check out" women in public, which she despises (in our context). The tensions around this issue were inflamed dramatically last May (one year ago) when I lusted after another girl by texting and emailing her, which severely shook up my girlfriend and almost broke our relationship. Remnants of this episode still linger emotionally for her.

Our progress: We've had a million discussions (mostly arguments) about this issue. We've tried one round of counseling together, she's been undergoing her own counseling for a couple months now, and we'll be going for a second round together again soon. Our cumulative theory as it stands now is that, due to the combination of abuse in my childhood and being betrayed in my first "serious" relationship, I disconnect/isolate myself from others emotionally. The lust of porn and other women is how I channel that isolated emotion, because it's a way to control and regulate it by only myself. Conversely, her highly emotional and illogical ways are most likely attributed to her family environment growing up. We've worked and reworked compromises but none ever seem to completely satisfy both of us at the same time, and arguments still arise. It's push and pull with no equilibrium.

Summary: Obviously, in terms of the success or failure of the relationship, I'm mostly the one with the problem. I love this girl to death, I don't want to lose her, but I just can't seem to get over my lust for other women. I want to do the right thing and I don't want to hurt her anymore. However, there's also part of me that doesn't want to give up my lust. I enjoy the "high" that I don't get from anything else, and I have very strong attractions. All our problems would be solved if either A) I could turn off this lust or B) She'd become accepting of it and enjoy a more "open" relationship. Right now, however, neither looks very likely to happen. The kicker: This is our ONLY ISSUE. It's a big one, but if you eliminate it, we are absolutely perfect together. We're best friends, we do everything together, and get along so well to the point that neither of us can imagine having such a bond with anybody else. So, there's that.

There's a lot of other small complications I could include, but that's the overall summary. With all that said, I'm not expecting some mind-blowing analysis of our situation--more just objective opinion, either from experience or just evaluation.
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Emerald Coast, FL
4,383 posts, read 3,389,824 times
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If counselling hasn't helped, I'm not sure what you'll find here. Basically, neither of you has much other dating experience, and while that does not seem to bother her, you simply aren't ready to settle down and feel driven to experiment and date others. Until you get that out of your system, your whole relationship is at risk. I don't see how you can keep your relationship AND work this urge out of your system - and maybe you never will.
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
10,680 posts, read 8,111,039 times
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Please don't start thinking, "Obviously I'm the one with more of a problem etc etc." Everyone brings their own stuff to relationships, and both have a say in how things go.

Having said that, the thing that you say is your ONLY issue is not really the issue. It seems obvious that you are not ready for this commitment, as you have made plain by having an emotional affair with whomever that was you texted.

You also must have said clearly that you'd like to have more of an open relationship, which is another clue that you are not truly happy with this relationship. Yet (surprise!) she is not into it. So basically you have said, "You are not enough for me." And she is too wrapped up in the history you two have and the fact that you get along well to recognize that.

I'd say your GF sounds pretty immature, which is pretty normal for someone her age. It sounds like you have more of a parent-child dynamic than an equal-partner dynamic. That makes it really hard to maintain a love relationship.

Based on what you've written, I'd say you need to take a break from each other. One of you should move out, and you both need to continue therapy. Sometimes, though, therapy cannot help put a square peg in a round hole. If you are with the wrong person, all the therapy in the world won't make you happy.
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:53 AM
 
900 posts, read 800,139 times
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Just sounds to me you're not ready to settle down , or she isn't the right one. Maybe you will never be ready. You need to make a decision- do you want her or not. Porn isn't a problem ,imo. Talking as much as you did with that other lady is (was) What do you want?
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:53 AM
 
155 posts, read 129,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoistDude View Post
If counselling hasn't helped, I'm not sure what you'll find here. Basically, neither of you has much other dating experience, and while that does not seem to bother her, you simply aren't ready to settle down and feel driven to experiment and date others. Until you get that out of your system, your whole relationship is at risk. I don't see how you can keep your relationship AND work this urge out of your system - and maybe you never will.
I guess it's where my rationality gets the best of me. I know that pretty much no other girl "out there" is worth losing my girlfriend over. I know that if we did break up, just so I could lust, I would most likely feel a tremendous amount of regret and self-hatred over time, especially down the road when my lust may no longer be as much of a factor. That and, like I said, our relationship is amazing outside of this issue. So I guess that's what keeps me (and her) continuing to try to resolve the issue. I'm essentially torn between what I want (lust), and want I think is the right path (this relationship).
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
10,680 posts, read 8,111,039 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlocal View Post
I guess it's where my rationality gets the best of me. I know that pretty much no other girl "out there" is worth losing my girlfriend over. I know that if we did break up, just so I could lust, I would most likely feel a tremendous amount of regret and self-hatred over time, especially down the road when my lust may no longer be as much of a factor. That and, like I said, our relationship is amazing outside of this issue. So I guess that's what keeps me (and her) continuing to try to resolve the issue. I'm essentially torn between what I want (lust), and want I think is the right path (this relationship).
That's basically saying, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."

Not to mention that you are framing this situation like this: current girlfriend = good; any other option = evil.

You're settling for something that is tolerable because you can't imagine that in a world of 3 billion women, you are afraid that you might never find someone as good as this girl.

Tolerable is not something you can build a fulfilling life on.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:00 PM
 
155 posts, read 129,806 times
Reputation: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmsn4Life View Post
Please don't start thinking, "Obviously I'm the one with more of a problem etc etc." Everyone brings their own stuff to relationships, and both have a say in how things go.

Having said that, the thing that you say is your ONLY issue is not really the issue. It seems obvious that you are not ready for this commitment, as you have made plain by having an emotional affair with whomever that was you texted.

You also must have said clearly that you'd like to have more of an open relationship, which is another clue that you are not truly happy with this relationship. Yet (surprise!) she is not into it. So basically you have said, "You are not enough for me." And she is too wrapped up in the history you two have and the fact that you get along well to recognize that.

I'd say your GF sounds pretty immature, which is pretty normal for someone her age. It sounds like you have more of a parent-child dynamic than an equal-partner dynamic. That makes it really hard to maintain a love relationship.

Based on what you've written, I'd say you need to take a break from each other. One of you should move out, and you both need to continue therapy. Sometimes, though, therapy cannot help put a square peg in a round hole. If you are with the wrong person, all the therapy in the world won't make you happy.
She is overwhelmed by the feeling that she's not enough for me. I try to explain repeatedly that I'd have this lust issue no matter WHO I'd be in a relationship with right now (in other words, it has nothing to do with her qualities or value to me), but it still causes her a lot of pain. I generally agree that it's more of a parent-child dynamic than equal-partner.

There's only two problems with a break scenario: 1. I have no idea how long I'd theoretically need to get the lust out of my system, and 2. In doing so, I'd likely put her off so much that she wouldn't be open to resuming our relationship at a later point. We've even discussed this option briefly a couple times and she's outright said, if we break, we're done. I don't blame her for that mentality, either.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
7,384 posts, read 13,002,805 times
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Sounds like you haven't dated enough. You aren't convinced that she is the ONE for you. You aren't ready for a real relationship if your big concern is porn and dating other women.

Porn and cheating type behavior isn't accepted by many women. Nor are open relationships. You want to have your cake and eat it too. Go out and cheat like a mad man while the little woman is home keeping house and fixing dinner.

If I was your SO, I would totally agree to give you your space. I would move out and just date you now and then. I would also date others and live as I pleased. This is most likely what she is going to do. Get used to the idea. At 21, the world is her oyster. Why waste your best years with a guy who can't be happily monogamous?

You write well and seem to be intelligent. You must be a nice guy or she wouldn't have been with you that long. She is only 21 so you have to be the grownup. If you can't be what she needs, let her go. That's the right thing to do.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:01 PM
 
658 posts, read 571,007 times
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As an affectionate and emotional girl I side with your girlfriend, and fail to understand how you can be head-over-heels in love and yet actively lust after other women (though it's okay to find others attractive, as long as you don't do anything about it). Either one of those statements is false, or I get the definition of love wrong. Anyway, that's not important.

I agree with what TaoistDude says in terms of advice. Though I like to add one more suggestion: maybe you two should try to take a break, of perhaps 1 month to half a year in length, during which you work on your lust and sow your wild oats to your heart's content. The probability of this working out in the end is very low with some many unknowns and uncertainties, though it is something to try.

Essentially you want different kinds of relationships, and that is a biggie and I really don't see many ways out besides a clean break up.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
10,680 posts, read 8,111,039 times
Reputation: 17371
You are not going to "get the lust out of your system." It is a symptom that you are not happy in your current relationship.

It's not like there is a magic number of girls you can sleep with to make those feelings go away.

No, there are no guarantees that you will be able to get her back if you break up. But your relationship has passed a line that you cannot cross back over, and with the hurtful events that have happened, this could be as good as it's going to get.

Can you live forever with it the way it is right now, today?
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