May 8, 2020 at 10:25 am #353852
I need help right now. I am not sure where to start, I am confused.
A bit of background about myself… Like most, I come from a dysfunctional family. My father was alcoholic and he abandoned us after my mom left him when I was 6. My mother was depressive and emotionally distant. I am a “highly gifted person”, which means high IQ, sensitivity, altruism, empathy, idealism. Which also means that I feel very alone in this world. Many people think that being gifted is great. It is not, at least not for me, and I would love to be “normal”. I have been struggling with anxiety for as far as I can remember. My first depressive episode occurred when I was 18 years-old. I have had several episodes since then. I am now 45. I have never attempted suicide and never will, but the thoughts are often there.
I was in a relationship with a man for 14 years. I left him at the end of February. We had a son only 2 years into our relationship and it slowly but surely degraded over the years. While I loved my ex very much, he was a very egocentric person. It took me years to finally face that simple fact. He would not take my feelings and opinions, and those of our son, into account. In the past few years, while our family was under great stress, he would often have a short temper, yell at us, occasionally calling us names. On 5-6 instances, he freaked out and broke things like a door or a chair. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe that I was abused, I was never afraid for the physical safety of my child or mine. But this was a very stressful and toxic environment.
The events that finally led to our separation started in June 2019. I had somehow convinced myself that I was responsible for the fact that our sex life was inexistent and that if we managed to have a sex life again, it would be a start to mending our relationship and me feeling alive again… A bit more background that might help understand the (seemingly weird) logic behind this : I had a strong libido until my son was born. Sex was very important to me. Then, life happened and with it, many disappointments towards my ex’s lack of willingness to do his share around the house and with my son, his aggressiveness, etc. I tried everything I could think of to salvage our relationship. I wanted to go to couples’ therapy, he systematically refused. I tried to make our life as good as possible, taking on more than my share to spare him. I even helped him with his work while doing my PhD and taking care of my son. To sum up, I gave way too much and became exhausted. I fell into depression in 2014. I have been struggling with it since then, back and forth between periods of deep desperation and periods where I feel OK. Never real happiness anymore it seems.
Anyways, so here I was, June 2019, trying to figure out how to be less miserable and mend my relationship. I told my psychologist that I wanted to reignite my sex life and feel attracted to my partner again. We had had sex only once over the previous 2-years… So I worked on this through hypnosis with my psychologist. I did not see an effect at first. Then, in August, I felt a very strong attraction to another man while on a short trip by myself. It was not only sexual, this man had something very soft about him. Reassuring. Warm. I felt my whole chest warm up while in his presence. Nothing happened with that man, but this shook me to my core. I promised myself that I would not let this spark die out. Then I went back to my life, but this stayed with me, a little glimmer of hope that I could feel alive, feel whole and good again.
Last Fall was very tough, work-wise and with my ex. In November, on one occasion he was verbally abusive to me. This was during a period where I was really struggling – and he knew this. It broke something in our relationship and he realized it. He tried to make amends in the following months. He accepted for us to see a therapist (which we did not in the end). He was as sweet as can be. I thought I would give us time, even though his sudden sweetness felt fake. I wanted to save our family. So bad. Slowly, an idea formed into my mind. If I could find a “friend-with-benefits” to share affection and have sex with, maybe I could keep my family whole. After all, I had told my partner several times that he could find such a friend for himself, because I could not provide him with a decent sex life. He never acted on this.
So after pondering, at the end of December 2019, I decided to try a dating website. There I met a man. I was honest with him right from the start: I was considering adultery, but was very far from sure that I would jump the fence. He was in a situation similar to mine: he had been with the same woman for ten years, and she was asexual since the birth of his first child seven years ago. He was not sure either if he wanted to jump the fence. Like me, he wanted to find one person to build a sexual/sensual friendship with, not one-night stands. So we decided to get to know each other through email and see what would happen.
It was great, we wrote every day, usually 2-3 times a day. He was thoughtful, insigntful, gentle. His responses made me feel that he understood me, even cared about me. As I was not even sure that we would ever meet, I felt free to be myself and opened up to him. And he opened up to me.
We finally met physically at the beginning of last February. It was extraordinary. But afterwards, he started writing less often. Apologizing for it, stating that he was very busy. We kept writing a couple of times each week and saw each other another couple of times afterwards. Then the pandemic began. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has been writing roughly once a week to see how I am doing. I miss him so much. I wrote to him recently that I missed him and feel like I have lost a friend since we have been emailing less frequently. His response was that he misses me too, that he has never been busier (I know for a fact that his life is crazy), encouraging me to be strong, telling me that this is just a difficult phase to get through.
I do not know what to do with this relationship. I am going back and forth between ending it and carrying on. The main reason for carrying on is that I really like this guy. I rarely have felt so at ease with someone. It’s like a warm blanket, like balm on my wounds. This is so rare for me. And so welcome at this point in my life. When we are together, it is great. The main reason for ending it is that I often end up feeling sad and disappointed because I want more of him and I am not getting it. I want him to write to me more often and when this pandemic ends, I want to see more of him. He says he wants the same, but I have a hard time trusting him on this. I analyze his emails and behaviors, trying to figure out for sure if this is true, trying to understand why he is more distant than before we first met physically. Is it really that he is too busy? After all, isn’t it true that one can always make time when they want to? I mean, an email takes 5 minutes to write. Or is he afraid to get attached? He hinted at this the last time I saw him, saying “I have to be careful, you are a beautiful and intelligent woman and sooner or later you will meet someone.” My head tells me “this is just him sweet-talking me”. My heart tells me that maybe he is really as scared as I am. Every time I decide that this is madness, that I should end it, there is this pull, this connection to him that keeps me from doing it.
I’ll stop here. If you have thoughts on my situation, please share. Thank you!May 8, 2020 at 12:26 pm #354042
You are 45. Your mother was “depressive and emotionally distant”, your father abandoned you when you were six, you view yourself as having a high IQ, sensitive, altruistic, empathetic, idealistic, “struggling with anxiety for as far as I can remember, depressive at times, and “very alone in this world”.
At about 31, you started a relationship with a short tempered, “very egocentric” man, had a child with him at 33, helped him with his work while doing your PhD and taking care of your son, “gave way too much and became exhausted and depressed at about 39, six years ago.
A year ago, June 2019, at 44, after two years of having sex with your partner only once, you wanted to “reignite my sex life and feel attracted to my partner again”. Two months later, in August, you felt a very strong attraction, not to your partner, but to another man whom you met on a short trip that you took by yourself. That experience shook you to your core. You returned to your life with “a little glimmer of hope that I could feel alive, feel whole and good again”.
Three months later, Nov 2019, your partner verbally abused you while knowing that you were struggling: “It broke something in our relationship and he realized it. He tried to make amends.. was as sweet as can be”, but “his sweetness felt fake”.
“Slowly, an idea formed into my mind. If I could find a ‘friend-with-benefits’ to share affection and have sex with, maybe I could keep my family whole. After all, I had told my partner several times that he could find such a friend for himself”. Dec 2019, you met a man on a dating website who like you “wanted to find one person to build a sexual/ sensual friendship with, not one-night stands”. After weeks of quality online communication with him, you met him Feb 2020, and saw him in person about three times before “the pandemic began”. He is a very busy man and doesn’t have much time to communicate with you.
“I do not know what to do with this relationship. I am going back and forth between ending it and carrying on”. You like him, “felt so at ease” with him, “like a warm blanket, like balm on my wounds”, a rare experience for you, but you also “often end up feeling sad and disappointed because I want more of him and I am not getting it”. You doubt if he really is too busy to email you more often, wondering if he is afraid to get attached to you, suspecting that when he told you that you are beautiful and intelligent, he was just sweet talking you”.
You ended your original post with: “I’ll stop here. If you have thoughts on my situation, please share”.
My thoughts about your situation: I see your only moral obligation as that of a mother to her preteen son, and none to who you refer to as your partner. Reads like there is no merit in your relationship with said partner, nothing there other than perhaps a practical arrangement in regard to finances, a shared house and being co-parents.
I don’t think that this very poor quality partnership is worth maintaining by supplementing it with a friend with benefits. I think that this very poor quality partnership should be resolved: separate the finances, separate residences, co parent effectively and be a single woman, free to meet another single man.
I think that what you need more than anything in a relationship is a man you can trust, a man who will be available to you, a man who is patient and respectful. Perhaps you met a man like this before, but failed to form a relationship with him because you weren’t aware of and weren’t focused on what you truly needed from a man.
The man you met a few times, he is not available to you because he is very busy career wise and with his own partner and children. There is no reason for you to compromise this way: separate from your own pseudo partner and seek an available, single partner, worthy of a true, quality partnership.
That August 2019 “glimmer of hope”, that made you “feel alive, feel whole and good again”, as well as the Feb 2020 the feeling of being “at ease with someone.. like a warm blanket, like balm on my wounds”- you can experience these feelings with a man you haven’t yet met, a trustworthy, available, patient and respectful man. Your choice should not be limited to these two men, neither one of whom you can or should trust.
Feel free to let me know of your thoughts about my reply, and we can communicate further.
anitaMay 8, 2020 at 4:27 pm #354064
Thank you so much for your thoughful, non-judgemental response. I am amazed at how well you summed up my situation. Thank you.
Of course, you are completely right. Perhaps I was not clear on this, but I have already ended my relationship with my father’s son. I moved out on March 2nd. So that’s a start. Now, I am having a very difficult time finding the courage to end this relationship with my friends-with-benefits. How do I do that? It may sound foolish, but being with him has felt so good after years of unhappiness and struggle. I feel like a drowning person who has finally found a buoy to hold on to. I am afraid that I will not find someone else. The kind of men you described, I have never met. So I guess that I am compromising. Something that I have done quite a bit in my life.
Any advice on how to find the courage to end this relationship with my friends-with-benefits would be most welcome.
Take care Anita.
IsabelleMay 8, 2020 at 5:08 pm #354068
You are very welcome and thank you for your appreciation. I didn’t know you left your son’s father, that’s good news to me.
Regarding whom you refer to as your friends with benefits, if he was a good part of the reason you left your son’s father, then meeting him was of benefit to you.
“It may sound foolish.. I feel like a drowning person who has finally found a buoy to hold on to”- it is not foolish for a drowning person to hold on to a buoy. It is instinctive and naturally.. wise.
Part of the reason I suggested to not proceed with him is because of the distress and distrust in him that you described. If overall there is more distress than comfort+joy in your relationship with him, then it’s not much of a buoy for you anymore.
“The kind of men you described, I have never met” – how wonderful it will be when you do meet one. I met a good man in my later forties, now married to him.
“Any advice on how to find the courage to end this relationship with my friends-with-benefits would be most welcome”- no rush to end this relationship: you don’t see him, if I understand correctly, because of quarantine, on one hand, and on the other you moved out of your ex’s two months ago, and you need something… or someone to hold on to, that buoy you mentioned. So don’t pressure yourself to let go of him.
But keep in mind the distress vs. comfort/joy balance so that you are not holding on to a buoy-turned-cement brick that will drag you down, under water.
Be kind to yourself, aim at peace of mind and a better life for yourself, have you (and your son) be your number one priority. Post here anytime and I will be glad to reply to you every time you post.
anitaMay 8, 2020 at 5:55 pm #354074
I am indeed pressuring myself to end things with P (my friends with benefits) because I am afraid of getting hurt. I do not understand how he cannot find 5 minutes to email me in a day. And so, I tell myself, he does not care as much as I do, better to end this before getting hurt. I try to put on my tough woman armor and say “I am done!” But there is always this doubt in my mind. I cannot find clarity.
Also, what I have learned about myself recently makes me question my impulse to end this relationship. As mentioned in my original post, I am what is called a “highly gifted person”. Two separate psychologists diagnosed me. I did not believe the first one, which, turns out, reflects the self- and general- doubt typical of this profile. I would simply call it being an “intense person” instead, because the positive ring to “highly gifted person” detracts from the many negative aspects of it. One of them is loneliness. This means that when I feel a connection, which rarely occurs, I want close and frequent contacts with the person. More than what most people want. And it feels very painful when this does not happen. The other person rarely knows what is going on because I hold back in order not to scare them. P certainly does not know.
So maybe, as you suggest, I should not pressure myself to end things with him. And you are very right in mentioning that I should keep in mind the distress/joy balance so that I dont get dragged down. It is difficult for me to do analyze this balance right now because I have a hard time concentrating. This pandemic is taking its toll on my mental health, despite my best efforts to stay healthy by meditating, exercising and eating well. I guess that I should give myself time.
It is encouraging to know that you met someone in your late forties. Maybe this will happen for me too. 🙂
Thank you for reading me.
IsabelleMay 8, 2020 at 7:03 pm #354084
Yes, please don’t pressure yourself especially at a time when you are distressed, because of the pandemic taking a toll on your mental health.
“I am what is called a ‘highly gifted person’. Two separate psychologists diagnosed me”-
I read in Wikipedia a bit on “intellectual giftedness”. If I understand correctly, highly gifted is a term that many educators use to describe children who are superior intellectually but lag behind in emotional development or other aspects, like Einstein who was intellectually superior but learned to speak later than children his age.
I looked at a website (gifted matter. com/ diagnosis gifted) and if I understand correctly, some psychotherapists took the term from its educational/ children context to psychotherapy/adult context, offering psychotherapy designed to fit highly gifted adults.
The website reads: “giftedness is not a specialty in which formal training is offered”, but nonetheless offers therapy that addresses the special needs of the highly gifted adults.
It reads: “giftedness is a (neurological) asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experience and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.. Emotional sensitive itself shouldn’t be a target of therapy. Emotional sensitivity is not a pathology nor is it a lack of maturity… Many gifted people have low self-esteem or have imposter syndrome and believe they will eventually be ‘caught‘. Conversely, many gifted people try to hide or camouflage their intelligence for a variety of reasons.. Sometimes the problems a gifted person experiences result from a poor fit- relationship, environment, academic, or expectations.”
Are the parts I italicized in the quote true to you, and if so, will you elaborate on these things? I ask because I want to understand you and your challenge with P better. Answer if you would like to. I will be away from the computer in a few moments and back in about 12 hours from now. If you reply I will be glad to read and post to you again when I am back.
May 8, 2020 at 8:21 pm #354092RaviParticipant
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
Maybe I will say something that you already know and some others in the past may have already told you about “your relationship with yourself”. That sounds common but there is a meaning to it.
Just for a moment think of yourself without this person (P). How does that make you feel? Based on what you have mentioned in the post it doesn’t look like you feel complete without him. Truly speaking there is nothing like the ‘others complete us’. We have to complete ourselves.
Is there a written guarantee that when both you and P are together that you will again have that “Reassuring. Warm. A feeling of the chest warming up in his presence.” May be it will be there initially but later on?
“I feel like a drowning person who has finally found a buoy to hold on to.”
Will this mean that if this person is not with you then you will drown? Then as I said above there is no guarantee and this can happen again. Then you are back to square one. The same feelings, the same frustration, then the need to have someone else in our life and the cycle continues. I can understand that its a human feeling but if someone else is causing us to drown then we are not on the right track with ourselves.
“I guess that I should give myself time.”
Yes I believe this is exactly what you should do but without having the need to make or break the relation with P. Maybe when he writes and email you can respond too and when you decide to meet you can meet too. But this time there will be a “detached expectation”. Meaning – even if he writes an email or calls me to meet or NOT, I am still fine with it, with myself, because now I love myself, now I am going to be happy with myself and nobody else will complete me. Being with him is beautiful but even without him I’m good. In that way nobody else can make or break you.
“Any advice on how to find the courage to end this relationship with my friends-with-benefits would be most welcome.”
So if you do as stated above, then you do not need to do anything. Because if you have “detached expectation” and if you guys interact again, interaction with him will be effortless. And if he does not contact you again, you are still effortless in love with yourself. And you won’t need any strong emotions like “courage” to break things.
“I am afraid that I will not find someone else”
I wish I could sugar coat things and tell you that “No no this is not true you will definitely find someone again”. Instead I will tell you the realities of life. There are so many people out there (including famous celebrities) who are good looking, have money, a good career, but are yet single even at a later stage of life. Nowhere I am saying that you won’t find anyone. But there is no guarantee. And even if we find, life will again throw its own challenges. It is not necessary we will have a nice, blissful, peaceful, loving relationship. But the only thing that would matter is a nice, blissful, peaceful, loving relationship with ourself….and then another person in our already existing beautiful life may come or go.May 8, 2020 at 8:47 pm #354102
The impostor syndrome I know very well. Despite having achieved a lot in my life by objective standards, I always attributed these achievements to external things such as luck or lenient evaluations. In the research field where I now work, I do not fit in. I pursued a career in this field in the hopes of making the world a better place. But instead, I found an ego-dominated environment where real-world preoccupations are only an afterthought. I am trying hard not to become cynical.
Lack of fit between my environment and myself pretty much sums my life, including with my loved ones. I love my family members dearly but I have never fit in with them.
One important reason why I stayed for 14 years with my ex and tried so hard to save our relationship is because on some levels, we understood each. He also has high IQ and emotionality. But his aggressiveness and lack of consideration and empathy made the relationship to him toxic for my son and I.
So here I was in December, feeling very, very alone, and hurt. And P came along and with his warmth and understanding, he made me feel better and achieve more clarity with regards to my situation. Exchanging with him helped me realize that I could never be happy with my son’s father and make the excruciatingly difficult decision of leaving him. Even though my fathers’ son was hinting that he might commit suicide if I was to leave him, I found the courage to do it. For this, I will always be grateful to P. And I cannot help but to want to hear from and see more of him. I want to be reassured that he is going to be there when this pandemic finally ends. Of course, my abandonment issues probably also have a lot to do with this.
I’ll stop here for tonight. If you have any thought, I’ll be happy to read them.
IsabelleMay 9, 2020 at 7:01 am #354154InkyParticipant
My first thought: Is there any way to reconnect to the man you met on that infamous trip??
Second Thought: You know most people AREN’T gifted. Right?? Here is a very simple explanation why the current love does not email often: It is a pandemic. Very few people I know is at their A game right now. Even though we are all stuck at home, we are going through a collective trauma. He is probably stuck at home with his asexual partner (wife?). She is all (if it was me), “What are you doing (again) on your computer/phone, honey?” And if she is anything like most women she KNOWS there is/was someone in the wings. Just waiting. Hoping. Yearning. Jeez, I’d have sex with him too even if I was asexual and I felt another presence lurking in the background.
Lastly: He is not as on the fence as you might think. He may very well have an active sex life (now). His “asexual” could be her “twice a month”. He could be a One and Done cad.
May 9, 2020 at 7:09 am #354158InkyParticipant
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Inky.
If he emails you once a week, you take two weeks to respond. If he writes ten sentences, you write five. He will either yearn for you or this whole thing will gracefully end. NEVER be the one asking for more. Let him think other men are indeed contacting you because of your brilliance and beauty. Would a brilliant beauty be chasing after some schlub who only writes once a week? (The Mensa answer would be “No”). The person who responds less and has less to say has more power in the relationship.
InkyMay 9, 2020 at 8:49 am #354174
Congrats for leaving your ex, for having done the right thing for you and your son, my hat is off to you!
Regarding the lack of fit: “Lack of fit between my environment and myself pretty much sums my life, including with my loved ones. I love my family members dearly but I have never fit in with them”- I think that you didn’t fit in with your mother because she “was depressive and emotionally distant”, and you didn’t fit with your father because he “was alcoholic and he abandoned us”, and not because you have a high IQ/ being “a highly gifted person.
Regarding the imposter syndrome, not fitting in and cynicism: “Despite having achieved a lot in my life by objective standards, I always attributed these achievements to external things such as luck or lenient evaluations. In the research field where I now work, I don’t fit in.. I found an ego-dominated environment.. I am trying hard to not become cynical”-
-better than cynicism (or excessive optimism), is to be realistic with a touch of optimism. It is true that lots of work environments, including non-profits and such, are ego dominated. And it is true that luck has a lot to do with a lot of things, and it is true that a portion of professional evaluations in universities and the work place are lenient.
In your workplace, I know you wish it was better, that other people would be concerned primarily with making the world a better place. Accept that fact that this is not the case, and see if in the context of your workplace, you can still make a positive difference in the world (albeit a smaller positive difference than you hoped to make). If you can still make a positive difference in the world, then let it motivate you to keep going and get better and better at what you do.
Regarding your ex: “on some level, we understood each. He also has high IQ and emotionality. But his aggressiveness and lack of consideration and empathy made the relationship to him toxic for my son and I”- most people don’t put much of their IQ into good use, so better a partner who puts 70% of his lesser IQ into good use, than a partner who puts 5% of his highest IQ into good use (more IQ in-use this way).
Regarding “IQ and emotionality”- the interaction between the two should lead to peaceful relationships, the IQ being used to make peaceful relationships possible and likely. Your ex having been toxic to you and to his own son means that he used zero percent of his IQ for what matters most.
Regarding P- I still think that it’s better for you to be romantically and intimately involved with a man who is single, not a man who lives with a partner and with their children. Some women prefer married men simply because it keeps them safe from getting trapped with those men. They want an intimate relationship, but not too intimate, needing the Stop Sign to prevent them from moving in with the man.
anitaMay 9, 2020 at 12:40 pm #354190
Thank you for your kind words.
When I think about myself without P, it makes me feel sad. I do not think that it is a matter of feeling incomplete without him, however. It is a sadness from loosing someone that I have felt connected to. It is more about him being there for me when I needed someone. Imperfectly, of course, but he was there. And now I am grieving his presence, I guess.
You know this idea of a relationship with myself is kind of strange to me. I do not understand what it means. We all need others, be they romantic partners, good friends or family member. I do not have many people that I can talk to and connect with in my life right now. I had P for a while. So it is difficult for me to have detached expectations. I do not know how to.May 9, 2020 at 12:55 pm #354196
Thank you for taking the time to answer!
There is no way I can reconnect with the man from my infamous trip.
All the things that you mention are indeed quite possible! I have no way of knowing. I am indeed keeping my distances with him since he started writing less often… As you say, maybe this whole thing will gracefully end.:)
You made me smile with your Mic Drop. Funny woman. 🙂
IsabelleMay 9, 2020 at 1:40 pm #354200
How does one cultivate a “realistic with a touch of optimism perspective”? I used to be optimist. Despite the depression and anxiety, there was always hope in my heart. Now I am having such a hard time finding it. It’s like I have been knocked down so many times in the past years, how do I find the strength to carry on? It feels like leaving my ex and moving out took the last of my strength. And as I am writing this, what comes to my mind is that I probably simply have to wait it out. Be as gentle to myself as I can be. Cry when needed. Rebuild my strength slowly. This has worked in the past, maybe it will work again.
Your remarks on my ex’s lack of use of his IQ are spot on. This is exactly what I kept telling myself… and then I would find him excuses for being so selfish and inconsiderate. I see this clearly now.
Perhaps I am doing the same thing with P. Being too understanding. As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes I tell myself “OK now I am putting an end to this”. I write him an email to let him know…and I don’t send it. When I decided to end things with my ex, things were crystal clear in my head. They are not when it comes to P.
Yes, indeed a relationship with a single man would be better… I was still with my ex when I met P so the fact that he was already involved was fine by me. My situation has changed however, but not his…
IsabelleMay 9, 2020 at 5:10 pm #354214
You moved out only two months and seven days ago (March 2), that’s not long ago. Give yourself time to adjust further to this change, a change that is definitely for the better. And congratulate yourself for making this change, remind yourself of this accomplishment every day, giving yourself the credit you deserve for making it happen.
You wrote that you used to find your ex excuses “for being so selfish and inconsiderate”- what were those excuses?
“Perhaps I am doing the same thing with P. Being too understanding”- what is it that you understood about P, excusing him not taking the time to email you once or a few times per day?
“I was still with my ex when I met P.. My situation has changed however, but not his”- I wonder how he reacted to you moving out, if that scared him, leading him to think that since you moved, you’d want more from him (?)
(I don’t feel comfortable asking you question after question, yet.. how will I learn about you and your situation if I don’t ask.. ooops, I asked yet another question!)
“How does one cultivate a ‘realistic with a touch of optimism perspective?”- cultivate a realistic perspective by finding out what reality is. Regarding P- what is the reality of his partnership or marriage? What is his life like on the inside, behind closed doors, what is his routine, his relationships with his children, with the mother of his children, with others? The more information you have about his life, the more of a realistic perspective you will have about whether you can fit in his life, and in what ways/ to what extent.
A touch of optimism, you expressed optimism here: “Rebuild my strength slowly. This has worked in the past, maybe it will work again“!