May 10, 2019 at 4:39 pm #293213
I’m grappling with a hard choice and would appreciate other’s perspectives. I am a 32 yo woman dating a wonderful 31 yo man. We’ve been together about a year, in which we’ve grown a steady, supportive trusting love between us. I’ve had several very serious relationships before and he is the first partner (maybe first person in my life?) where I’ve felt entirely supported, accepted, and loved. That is a powerful connection that a core part of me has craved forever, and yet since our first dates I’ve had the feeling that sometime is… off. He is very dutiful to the point of one-way about it; pretty closed off about his own emotions/thoughts (while open to mine), not very verbally communicative (though we’re trying to find new ways to communicate), very physically restrained (i.e. does not touch me unless I ask). Our physical intimacy has never blossomed naturally and the past couple months it’s dried up all together– sex is a huge part of intimate bonding for me and he seems to avoid it/always gets headaches, phantom pains, etc. that prevent the moment. Havign dated closeted men before I do not think that’s the issue though I suspect something difficult in his past–? PTSD? We’re seeing a counselor about this and about our communication issues, and it’s good to talk but not really any changes yet… So for a year I penduluum between my love and happiness at finding someone (we both want the old fashioned married with a kid life in next 5 or so years) and my gut fear we’re missing the spark that I crave with “my person”. I have shared all my doubts openly and honestly with him and it shocks me always but he is very patient and loving with my worries.
Amidst all this, he is wanting us to deepen our committment and move in to a new place together in July. We live in a VERY expensive difficult housing market, both on limited incomes, so it’s a big thing to do and not easily undone. I have decided I cannot do this in good faith given my doubts about our relationship. I want to stay in therapy and work on this, only move in if I feel more secure about our physcial intimacy and communication. He disagrees and strongly feels these things will only grow by moving in together and sharing more of our lives. He expressed that he thinks it’s not as risky as I see it, that it’s ok for me to have these doubts and that I can continue to decide about our relationship once we move in.
I think he is being entirely naieve; if this type of connecting I crave hasn’t happened in our first year together, why would moving change it? After a month or two of honeymoon phase and fun of feathering the nest etc I fear my doubts will be even louder…. He feels if we don’t move in, we won’t grow together and it will stay hard (commuting btwn aptmts, dealing with roommates, etc.). I don’t like feeling pressured, but it is true I’m a worrier and he’s not.
What do I do? Go with my gut and stand my ground? Throw caution to the wind and move in and try this new life chapter? I’m afraid if I do it will be 100x harder to ever leave if I decide we DON”t work together, but I don’t want to give up on us yet. He seems to think if we don’t move in, it will not work and will fizzle for my lack of committment. Which hurts.
Sorry for long post and would appreciate your help. 32 with a ticking bio clock makes the idea of leaving much harder than in my 20s.Julie.May 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm #293223MarkParticipant
My personal belief is that living together is not the same as a legally committed relationship which is marriage.
You have made clear that you want better communication, physical intimacy and sex.
It sounds like he is a great listener, patient and surface supporter but is not willing to take any action to address those relationship barriers that you identified. I suspect seeing the therapist was your idea. If he truly wants a “deeper commitment” then that means to me, he would be willing to address those issues that you have made known that is keeping you from doing so.
My guess is that once you two move in together then there is no incentive for him to work on communication, being open emotionally, or have any sort of sex life.
I believe at a certain age is that “what you see is what you get” for partners. I don’t make a long term committed relationship based on what *could* change in the other person. I only am willing to do it with someone who is what they are right here, right now.
He is using the threat of your relationship with him ending unless you two move in together. That is blackmail. It is HIS lack of commitment in having better communication, being more open emotionally, being more physically affectionate and having a a sex life with you.
You may end up with a child but it sounds like it will be with someone you will be unhappy with in the long run.
Does that make sense?
MarkMay 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm #293231
Thanks for your response, Mark. You frankly articulated my thoughts exactly, yes I was the one who requested couples’ therapy and yes I’m disappointed that while we talk a lot about things there hasn’t been much of any change in behavior over the year.
In particular what you said here resonated with how I’m feeling :”I believe at a certain age is that “what you see is what you get” for partners. I don’t make a long term committed relationship based on what *could* change in the other person. I only am willing to do it with someone who is what they are right here, right now.”
I want to believe him when he says it’s his living circumstances etc. that make him feel constrained in his current behavior, but I don’t think that’s true and I do believe what you see is what you get. I guess I was hoping someone would push back on me here as I’m wondering if I’m being too pigheaded in my perspective, but I appreciate your frank feedback which articulates my core perspective and concerns about this relationship.
Thank you again, Mark. I appreciate it.May 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm #293233that-girl-next-doorParticipant
I think you’ve answered your own question- go with your gut and stand your ground. In my experience, a strong gut feeling is never wrong. It’s completely natural to want to question it though- after all this guy has some great attributes, and maybe that’s not something you want to give up for the single life and being alone etc.
i think it’s worth holding off moving in together if it seems risky. A secure roof over our heads is always going to be top priority.May 10, 2019 at 8:51 pm #293235MarkParticipant
You are welcome JuliaM.
I judge people on their actions not on what they say that they intend to do.
If you have not seen any progress after one year of couples therapy then either get another therapist or save your money. If he wants to change behavior then tell him to see his own therapist to help him do that.
MarkMay 10, 2019 at 9:24 pm #293239
We only started the couples therapy about two months ago… but I get your point Mark . I’ve encouraged him to seek his own therapy but he’s very resistant to the idea, said it would affect his security clearance for work (now a reserves duty vet). I don’t know the policy issues on that, but it’s hard to see your partner not pursue therapy when it could be so helpful though I get people have different cultural and personal perceptions of mental health care. I’ve always found therapy incredibly helpful and constructive, but I realize people have to choose healing for themselves.May 11, 2019 at 6:26 am #293243anitaParticipant
I have a possibility about what it is that is off with your boyfriend (“since our first dates I’ve had the feeling that something is… off”):
You wrote, “I have shared all my doubts openly and honestly with him and it shocks me always but he is very patient and loving with my worries”- he is very patient and loving with your worries not as the man involved in the relationship you are worried about, but as a third party. In other words he removes himself emotionally from you while you talk to him about your worries (and probably as he sits with you in counseling), and is in a way, a third party, uninvolved. As a third-party he is able to be patient and loving toward you.
He is “pretty closed off about his own emotions/thoughts (while open to mine)”- as a boyfriend he is closed off, as a third party he is open.
So what happened is that you felt “entirely supported, accepted, and loved” by a third party while unloved by your boyfriend.
Again, as your boyfriend, he is “very physically restrained (i.e. does not touch me unless I ask)… he seems to avoid it/ always gets headaches”, but as a third party he wants “the old fashioned married with a kid life… wanting us to deepen our commitment and move in to a new place together in July”.
He told you, “that it’s ok for me to have these doubts and that I can continue to decide about our relationship once we move in…he feels if we don’t move in, we won’t grow together “- this is the third party talking, similar to how a psychotherapist will talk to a client, giving you advice about your relationship with … someone else.
You wrote, “I’m disappointed that while we talk a lot about things there hasn’t been much of any change in behavi0r over the year”- there hasn’t been any change, I believe, because you’ve been talking with a third party, and your boyfriend, he wasn’t really present during those talks.
“I want to believe him when he says it’s his living circumstances etc. that make him feel constrained in his current behavior, but I don’t think that’s true”- I don’t think it is true either. It is.. the third party that believes it, but the third party cannot guarantee such a thing, not knowing the boyfriend involved.
“I encouraged him to seek his own therapy but he’s very resistant to the idea”- he is not interested in getting to know your boyfriend, that is, himself. He is not interested in departing from his third-party MO.
My understanding at this point is that he deals with life and problems as a third party, handling things in theory, as if he is not personally involved in the relationship, in theory this or that will work, but practically, he is not willing to look into himself, to connect with the part of him he disassociated from long ago, not really involving that disassociated part.
When he is loving and patient with you, as this third-party person, you may get confused at times, maybe thinking there is something wrong with you, maybe you are not a loving person, but his loving behavior is possible only while he assumes the third party position. Otherwise, you will be living with a closed off man who has shut a very important part of himself long ago.
What do you think?
anitaMay 11, 2019 at 8:58 am #293257InkyParticipant
Honor your feelings that something is “off”.
Also, it sounds like he is very removed but this moving in together is the only thing he’s passionate about. What’s up with that? Is it the money? Is it to eventually mooch off of you? Is it because he is secretly gay and this will “prove” that he’s a regular guy? Is it to ease you into marriage (military people are very traditional in that respect)? Very strange.
Who the heck knows. But off is off. I know you’re in your thirties, but trust me, you still have some good years left to have kids.
Keep your own place!