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“I Feel Like We’re Playing Pretend”

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by freelance writer, Rachel East, AKA ReginaRey.

I’ve been having doubts about my relationship with my boyfriend, but I don’t want to break up with him. He’s a wonderful person and we’ve had a great relationship so far. He definitely respects me, makes me feel loved, and we attend university together. About three months into our relationship, I moved into his house with him, his mom, his sister, our friend Dan, and now his sister’s ex-boyfriend. I’m really grateful to his mother for letting me move in (my mother kicked me out and I was living in my car) while I finish my teaching degree. But lately, I haven’t felt as passionate about our relationship as I used to.

We haven’t had sex in almost six months. I just woke up one morning with no interest in ever having it again. My interest has come and gone a little bit since then, but I’m mostly disinterested. In recent weeks, it’s gotten even worse. I don’t want to kiss or cuddle or be affectionate at all. We’ve tried taking breaks and getting space, but it’s really hard when we both live together and with his family. As soon as I am able, I would like to move out of this house and have my own space, but for right now, it’s my main option.

I feel guilty for not being 100% certain that I want to marry him. My friends and family adore him, and he’s very sweet, but I’m just not happy. I’m also his first girlfriend ever (I’m 20, and he is 22), and while most of the things he does for me are sweet, they aren’t very deep. It almost seems like he’s imitating movies or TV shows.

I can’t tell if this is just a rough patch or if things are going to get better or not. I already see a therapist for my issues with my mother, and we’ve recently started going to see a couple’s counselor at our University. The couple’s counselor thinks that it is very important for me to “process” a previous relationship I was in that was extremely abusive. However, talking about it or even thinking about it makes me feel like vomiting, and it makes me really withdraw from my boyfriend. I personally feel like that stuff is in the past and there is no point in drudging up those feelings now. I’ve made my boyfriend aware of what he needs to know (that it happened, certain triggers to avoid, etc.), but for the most part, I just don’t like thinking about it.

This whole situation just baffles me, and even though my boyfriend is sweet and loving, I just feel like we’re children playing pretend. What should I do? Should I break it off? Do all couples go through this at some point? Am I horrible for not being happy? — Hoping for Happiness

The reason you feel horrible for being unhappy is because you feel guilty. You think you shouldn’t be having these thoughts because your boyfriend is sweet, and your friends and family adore him, and because he isn’t abusive. In your mind, your boyfriend doesn’t deserve for you to be having these “negative” thoughts about him, and it eats you alive.

Many women fall prey to thinking that because their relationship isn’t “bad,” they shouldn’t feel unhappy or dissatisfied. But here’s a secret: Relationships don’t have to be bad for them not to be good. You don’t have to have an obvious reason like “he’s abusive” in order to end your relationship. You’re allowed to break up with someone simply because the relationship doesn’t make you happy.

You asked if all couples go through this at some point. The answer is yes, couples tend to go through rough patches and many end up in counseling. BUT – there’s a difference between working through a rough patch in an otherwise solid, happy relationship, and trying to “work through” something that simply isn’t right in the first place.

You’re both quite young and this was his first relationship. You acknowledged that it hasn’t been particularly deep, and that a big part of you has lost interest. What you’re saying, without actually saying it, is that this relationship has fizzled. It’s normal! Relationships lose their spark, run their course, you fall out of love, and you learn it wasn’t the right long-term partnership for you.

But you’re scared, I understand. You’re worried that if you break up with someone on the grounds of “feeling like it wasn’t right,” you’ll constantly wonder if you made a mistake. How can you be sure of your decision when you’re so full of doubt? Well, here’s one hint: Being constantly UNsure about a relationship is a SURE sign that it’s not right. And here’s another hint: Your gut is rarely wrong.

Do you want to know why you have no desire for sex, or cuddling or even being affectionate? Because your gut knows that this relationship has fizzled out. Somewhere in your subconscious, you feel guilty for showing him affection and love because then, you’re making him think that you still feel the same way he does…and you don’t.

Your gut is telling you what your conscious mind refuses to acknowledge: This isn’t the right relationship for you anymore. It’s why you’re turned off by him, it’s why you’re less-than-satisfied with his lack of depth, and it’s why you’re unhappy. Your statement that “I don’t want to break up with him” isn’t going to fly. You need to acknowledge that you’ve tried for quite some time to be happy, and it just isn’t happening. Breaking up doesn’t mean you failed. What would be a failure is staying in a relationship that makes you unhappy and leaves you unfulfilled.

And finally, let’s be honest about something: I know you know that your living situation needs to change, pronto. As long as you’re in that house, you’ll never find a relationship that makes you happy as regularly as this relationship makes you unhappy. Isn’t changing that fact worth all the effort it takes to move out?

*ReginaRey (Real Name: Rachel East) is a full-time Events & Promotions Coordinator and a part-time freelance writer focusing on dating and relationships. One day, after tackling grad school, she plans to be your Marriage and Family Therapist…because the only thing better than talking about relationships all day is getting paid to talk about relationships all day. You can check out her weekly column here and follow her on Twitter @MissRachelEast.
 

 

 

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{ 78 comments… add one }

  • avatar CottonTheCuteDog October 31, 2011, 7:33 am

    why can’t she talk with the boyfriend about what would make her happy? Then he can try a little harder.

    • avatar 6napkinburger October 31, 2011, 9:00 am

      Respectfully, I think this advice is well-intentioned but misguided.

      Why can’t she talk with the boyfriend about what would make her happy so he can try harder? He already does try and it isn’t making her happy. Because no matter how hard he tried, he can’t make her happy. Because he’s not the right guy for her.

      LW, the fact that you are talking about marrying someone who you haven’t been intimate with in 6 months and have zero desire to hug, kiss, cuddle or comfort is shooting off fireworks of “pay attention to this issue” that I can’t believe your counselor missed. Your life lacks stability, save your well-meaning boyfriend and his family. Your homelife clearly has not been stable. You’ve been in past relationships that have left you unwilling to discuss them. You don’t feel you have any other options and his mother/family clearly is a loving stable place that takes in strays (your friend? his sister’s ex?[ are those the same person?]). You want to feel like you belong to do something, so you are ignoring the signs that you don’t want to be with HIM.

      Not being happy with someone is a good enough reason to break up with someone who, by all other accounts, is great. In fact, NO reason is a good enough reason. The truth is, you don’t really *like like* him anymore. Maybe you still love him. But you don’t *like like* him. And that’s ok. And there isn’t anything that he or you can do about it. Even if he “tries a little harder” and even if you do. You can’t force *like like*.

  • avatar DDL October 31, 2011, 8:08 am

    This relationship isn’t fulfilling anyone if being physically intimate is a turn-off, and 6 months is a long time to go without sex in a relationship that started 9 months ago.

    In light of this letter, I want to tell you all a story:

    About a year ago, I went out with a guy who was very nice, smart, funny, but socially awkward for his age of 21. He didn’t speak English very well, and that embarrassed him which is completely understandable. But it was the social awkwardness (among other things) that got to me. He could only talk to me over text and would be very quiet in person, especially on a date. But he was really nice and I was having a rough time in my relationships with dudes (I have tons of horror stories) and it was refreshing to have someone who was basically devoted to me. We had met in a class and exchanged Facebook and numbers about a month before and had been talking over the Internet when, out of the blue, he asked me out. I was excited because I knew how much he had accomplished and how much he could make me laugh! So we went out… for a walk. Which would’ve been fine had he actually said something to me. Yeah, at least dinner eating gives the excuse not to talk. Then after he dropped me off, he asked if he could kiss me. I liked kissing boys, so I said yes. Then he asked me to be his girlfriend. And…I felt like I couldn’t say no because I knew how nice he was even though he didn’t talk much in person.

    So I became his second girlfriend ever. And that’s about when he started bitching (and I mean bitching) about his first girlfriend. All the time. Whenever we talked within the two weeks we dated, she’d some how come up: how horrible she was for breaking his heart, how she used to love him but then let him go… basically he ripped several pages out of several different romance novels, only he managed to find the ones on how to drive a girl away instead of reeling her in. Even after I asked him to stop talking about her, he’d apologize and then say ‘Yes, I’m over her’…. for about ten minutes, then he’d start on again. So, being the dumb 18 year old I was, I broke it off over MSN about a week later. Then I had do it again over text after he wouldn’t stop bothering me about why I was breaking up with him.

    So why did I break up with him? Other than his clingliness and his inability to STFU about his ex, I felt uncomfortable in the relationship. I had trouble kissing him and holding his hand, and even being out in public with him embarrassed me. The relationship had gone too fast for me and I was almost disgusted by it.

    After two weeks and two dates, he wanted to act as though we had been a couple for years. Plus, he would not shut up about his ex! I know it was my fault; I could’ve said no, but I pitied him/thought I could help him/thought maybe with time he’d be okay with me in public. Of course, none of that is ever a reason to start a relationship.

    The point I’m trying to make is don’t stay in relationships that make you uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve dated the person or how hot they are or how sweet and kind they are. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You’re not a horrible person for realizing you’ve become uncomfortable, or for wanting to break up. Break up. Cos that’s probably the best thing for the both of you.

  • FireStar FireStar October 31, 2011, 8:14 am

    It sounds like you have been through a lot. An abuse ex, a mother who kicked you out of your home – any one of those would rake their toll on almost anyone. Feeling sick just thinking about your ex is a clear indication that you haven’t fully healed from that experience. I understand you wanting to just move on from that experience but sadly our minds don’t always follow suit. Is there a possibility you are depressed? Loss of sex drive is typically a symptom and given your traumatic past maybe that is something to think about. Perhaps discuss the feelings you are experiencing with your primary counsellor. If you are serious when you say you don’t want to break up with your boyfriend then at least process what you are going through fully. It is not easy -it’s true – but it is the best thing you can do for yourself.

    • FireStar FireStar October 31, 2011, 9:40 am

      *abusive ex
      *take their toll
      :( it’s Monday morning

    • avatar Carolynasaurus October 31, 2011, 12:27 pm

      I think you’re right, she may be depressed. The difficult part may be it may have to get worse before it gets better because she won’t be able to get healthy until she can process all of this on her own. Holding on to this poor boyfriend will only drag him down as well. She needs to create a strong support system in her friends and start changing the direction of her life.

  • avatar Anna October 31, 2011, 8:15 am

    Wow…it sounds like you need to get out of that house PRONTO! There’s nothing wrong with what you are experiencing. You are only 20, you may go through a few more “not quite right” guys before you find The One. I can tell you that I still have every desire to kiss my boyfriend, cuddle with him, and jump him at any time of day. We have been together for 8 years so far. Not every relationship fizzles with time, only the ones that aren’t right.

    I know you are a very poor student right now (believe me, I’ve been there) but you need to make a plan to move out very soon. I would suggest getting a job if you don’t already have one and looking through the classifieds for your area for potential roommates. Especially in college towns, it is not hard to find 1, 2, maybe even 3 other students to split an apartment or house with. Even if you have to work long hours and chug extra coffee to do your homework, your independence will be worth it. I worked full time when I was in college because my parents were not helping me with anything and the other option actually *was* living in my car. It was tough but well worth it!

    • JK JK October 31, 2011, 10:02 am

      Your 1st paragraph is exactly what I was explaining to a friend a few months ago, she´s a serial monogamist, each guy is¨”the One”, until the next one comes along. SHe was saying that it´s normal for things to fade after a few months, that she wasn´t going to look for the perfect partner anymore (we´re 32).
      As I told her, I´ve been with my husband for 9 years already, and I still get butterflies when I hear that he gets home, when I see his name on caller ID, etc. Sure I guess there are couples that do have passion whatever fade, but there are also many that carry on, no matter how long!

      • CatsMeow CatsMeow October 31, 2011, 4:52 pm

        That’s nice to hear, JK!!

        My boyfriend said he thinks that he’ll still get “butterflies” around me 20 years from now, and while I thought it was really sweet of him to say, I also thought it was unrealistic and then I got kinda worried/paranoid/neurotic. But it’s great to know that it can and does happen. :)

    • avatar Jess October 31, 2011, 10:25 am

      Not every relationship fizzles with time, only the ones that aren’t right.

      this!!

      • TaraMonster TaraMonster October 31, 2011, 3:55 pm

        Exactly- and there’s a difference between passion cooling and passion fizzling. Passion in relationships wax and wane, but it shouldn’t evaporate. If it’s like pulling teeth to stoke those coals and fire it up again, then I think it’s safe to safe to say that particular relationship has run its course. It sounds like LW has already checked out of this relationship and needs to MOA.

  • avatar Ktfran October 31, 2011, 8:23 am

    I agree with RR’s advice 100%. I really don’t think there is anything else to add. I do, however, want to reiterate what RR said becuase I think the LW needs to hear it.

    By ending this relationship, you are not failing. You are giving you and your boyfriend a chance to find a partner that suits each of you.

    Sure, you will have “what if” moments, it’s only natural. But as quickly as those moments come, remember those feelings of disinterest and you’ll know you made the right decision.

  • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't October 31, 2011, 8:44 am

    Why does the LW feel so much pressure to be certain about wanting to marry someone she’s dated for 9 months, at the age of 20? In addition to taking a break or ending the relationship entirely and moving out, I think she needs to address with her therapist why she feels this way.

    • avatar MissDre October 31, 2011, 9:07 am

      Most likely because she’s afraid to be alone. She’s likely afraid that nobody else will ever come along and love her and treat her well. I’ve been there. Tried desperately to save a relationship that wasn’t right, because I was afraid there would never be anybody else. She needs to learn how to feel confident being single.

      • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't October 31, 2011, 9:10 am

        I think you’re definitely right about this…..but I still think that it’s something that absolutely needs to be talked about in therapy. Not wanting to talk about her past abusive relationship is no excuse for avoiding the subject entirely.

    • avatar Jess October 31, 2011, 10:20 am

      maybe its to justify living with him/accepting so much help from his family

  • avatar oppositeofzen October 31, 2011, 9:06 am

    If you’re not happy with the relationship, then get out of it. and I applaud you for going to both individual and couples therapy. But you need to still go to your primary counselor. If you still want to vomit after your last relationship, you’re not over it. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is to think that it’s in the past and doesn’t matter. You still need to heal from what happened and by pushing it down and thinking it doesn’t matter, you never will. And it will continue to surface and re-surface until you face it head on and deal with it.

  • Budj Budj October 31, 2011, 9:13 am

    Breaking up with someone doesn’t make you a bad person – if you aren’t feeling it you aren’t feeling it. Staying with someone for fear of not having a place to live is pretty shitty though…and nobody talked about this, but I think that is an aspect of your guilt…not all of it…but this is the elephant on the blog.

    If I was your bf I would totally be thinking red flag over the lack of sex…he probably already suspects this and his “movie romance” attempts are probably because he is trying to win you back over. Be open about it and try to figure something out or you will continue to feel crappy.

    • avatar 6napkinburger October 31, 2011, 9:35 am

      I think you’re right about both. Though I do think the “where to live” thing is on two levels: a purely practical level and a deeper “stability” level. Permit me to psychoanalyze a stranger with limited training and very limited information, if you will.

      On a practical level, I think you are completely right: she feels the need to stay in the relationship because his parent’s house is better than her car. It’s warmer, it has showers, and it isn’t a car. Chances are, she can’t keep living there for free if she breaks up with him. So she stays with him, so she doesn’t get kicked out, and feels guilty for using him, feels crappy about that, feels trapped and feels sad. I think there is an awareness of this, maybe at like 15% aware that she is staying in the relationship so she has a roof over her head.

      On a deeper level, I do think she enjoys the stability that this house gives her and she may be unable at this point to give that up. In less of a selfish-bitch-who-is-using-him-for-a-bed kind of way, and more of a person who craves acceptance, love and stability kind of way. Imagining his mother as a warm, inviting, loving woman, who raised a nice, kind, respectful, loving son, this family offers her a feeling of belonging and stability she does not have otherwise. And breaking up with him means not only losing her abode, but losing a “home.” Combine this with her actual mother and feelings of abandonment, she might not be able to sever this tie yet, or at least she may not feel like she can. I give this about 10% awareness that it is the “home” aspect that she values in the relationship.

      So maybe it isn’t as black and white as it seems. As you say, clearly the guy knows something’s up. He’s willing to go to couple’s therapy at 22 with a girl he’s been in a relationship with for 9 months. Maybe he’s “special” in some way so he feels like this is it; maybe he’s sheltered, inexperienced, or maybe he wants to “save” her and he thinks that those feelings of wanting to protect her means he loves her for eternity. Maybe in THIS situation, she CAN talk to him, and then the mother, about what’s really going on: She doesn’t *like like* him anymore; that is, she does not feel romatically about him. But she loves him (like a brother?) and loves his family, and feels like she’d be lost. Maybe talk about that with the therapist. And maybe there’s a way to keep living there, but not to be in the relationship anymore. If the sis’ ex is living there, maybe the “brother’s ex” can too. Maybe give it a time limit (the end of this semester?) Maybe the mother can help her find another place to live (a friend who needs an au pair?)

      My point is, this girl feels all alone without this family and maybe it isn’t time to throw off all of their support. I wasn’t “fully independent” when I was 20; and I can’t say that she has to be, if people are offering to help her find her way. Maybe she can “use” this family as a resource, the same way I “used” my parents as a resource, in that I didn’t “pay them back” immediately and they were happy to help. Maybe this family has enough true love and affection for her that they’ll understand that at 20, not all relationships last, and they’ll still help her figure out how to be happy. I would start saving all you can and go with craigslist as a back up (rather than your car); but maybe give them a chance to support you first. They may be there for you, and your “secret” that you want out of the relationship is probably not that much of a secret.

      • Budj Budj October 31, 2011, 9:52 am

        I think you are right. Which is why I added at the end to be open about it and “figure something out”. He could kick her out…or he could try and work out a living situation for her…20 is kind of young to be forced out of your house when you’re still finishing up your degree so I definitely have some empathy with the LW’s situation.

        I just wanted to point out that that is adding to the guilt so if she is either hiding it or just plain not recognizing it in her own head (in either case it is unhealthy for her) then she needs to acknowledge it and rectify the situation.

        Regardless…this guy sounds like someone that would sacrifice his own well-being for her (that’s another issue I won’t dive into) and the sister’s ex-bf is still there so I think chances are in her favor for maintaining her living situation.

      • avatar Joanna October 31, 2011, 2:50 pm

        I want to “like” this times a million! You are absolutely right about her being able to use the family as a support and resource.

    • avatar H October 31, 2011, 10:17 am

      Oh, you are absolutely right. I think fear of having no where to go is a HUGE factor here. Which, it is hard to blame her for. She is only 20 and a student and probably really afraid of surviving alone. Let’s face it, some of us who are much older struggle with financially making it on our own. But, she needs to find a way. She might know a few girls who are living with their parents and would LOVE to get a little apartment to share for cheap rent. Or maybe a sibling she could stay with for a few months? I know living with this guy can’t be her only option…

      Fear and guilt are the two main motivators to staying with this guy.

      LW, it’s okay to be afraid. But, please know that you CAN do it. You are young and have been hurt badly before- but you CAN make it on your own. And as far as guilt is concerned, don’t feel sorry for your boyfriend. You would be doing him a great service if you left him. He may not realize it initially, but he will have the freedom to find a woman that is genuinely happy to be with him.

  • leilani leilani October 31, 2011, 9:19 am

    No, going 6 months without having sex with your boyfriend is not something all couples go through. I can’t imagine going six months without sex period, much less if there was a guy I loved sleeping next to me every night. I agree that this relationship has reached its end. Whether because of past emotional trauma or just a lack of physical chemistry with this guy, you are unable to give your whole self to him. I’m sure he doesn’t feel loved, fulfilled, and attractive if his girlfriend doesn’t like to kiss him or cuddle with him and refuses to have sex with him at all. I think you would be doing both of you a favor if you cut things off and worked on your issues on your own for a while.

  • avatar silver_dragon_girl October 31, 2011, 9:30 am

    Just to touch on one aspect of your letter…if you just woke up one morning with no desire to ever have sex again, you might consider speaking to your doctor about it. There are a lot of things that can affect a person’s libido, and it could very easily be something physical. It could also be mental. Bottling things up just because they’re “in the past” is kind of a recipe for emotional disaster. Believe me.

    That being said, neither of those problems necessarily mean you should stick things out with your boyfriend. It sounds like you’ve already pretty much checked out, and you’re just looking for that final impetus to leave. You don’t need a “reason” to break up with someone, or move out of his house. If you know it’s over, leave. It’s really as simple as that. It’s not fair to either of you to drag things out any longer.

  • avatar honeybeenicki October 31, 2011, 9:32 am

    LW – read the above advice from RR and the commenters about your current relationship – I have nothing new to add. Also, I wanted to add that I think it may be worth exploring your therapists advice about processing your past relationship. You say that the stuff is in the past and there’s no point, but the thing is that it really isn’t. If it still creates a strong enough reaction that you want to vomit just talking about it, I don’t think you’ve fully processed it. And, you must have brought it up in the counseling sessions for a reason. It is important to work through abusive relationships that were in your past for your own mental health. Not only can it affect you deeply, it can definitely affect your future relationships as well.

  • avatar MiMi October 31, 2011, 9:33 am

    This whole situation is not fair to anyone in it – the BF sounds sweet and clueless and doesn’t deserve to pay for the LW’s past bad experiences and the LW is in need of serious healing before she is in a good place to be in a relationship…
    the first step is to extricate yourself from this household, LW, and regain a sense of independence and objectivity. As kind and lovely as these folks have been to take you in and try to make you happy, finding a way to stand on your own two feet has to be a priority for you, along with your individual counseling. Maybe your counselor can hook you up with social services or find a women’s center that can give you options for temporary housing or some other living situation that will give you emotional and physical space to sort out your feelings and prioritize your goals without a daily burden of guilt and gratitude clouding the issues… good luck to you.

  • avatar Jess October 31, 2011, 10:01 am

    RR is right, you’re just over this relationship. People fall out of love, especially in your early 20s, and that is clearly what has happened to you. The only influence your past relationship has on this one is you think you don’t have a good enough reason to end it. guess what? It’s already over!! No sex for SIX MONTHS??? If you guys weren’t living together, would you want to go out on dates with him? No- you don’t even want to be around him. You guys are already broken up, you’re just still living together so you have to still see him. But clearly, your heart left him months ago. Do whatever you need to do to move out, ASAP.

  • avatar Jess October 31, 2011, 10:09 am

    Where is everyone getting the “they’ve been together for 9 months” thing? They moved in together after 3 months, and for the last 6 months she hasn’t been feeling it, but surely there was time in between. I wouldn’t be surprised if this relationship is around the year and a half mark. As com mentors have brought up before, this is a period of time where a lot of couples lose the spark and go their separate ways. Six months is not a rough patch, btw, it’s the end.

    And I 100% agree the reason she feels horrible/guilty is that she is still living with the guy, which makes total sense. I would feel guilty too, and trapped. Good luck LW!! I hope you can find something else soon! Since you are in university, I’m sure you can find an affordable sublease somewhere so you don’t have to worry about buying furniture/signing a year lease, etc. etc. I would try to find someone who’s studying abroad.

  • avatar SGAC October 31, 2011, 10:15 am

    Since it hasn’t been said yet: LW, I’m sorry you’ve been through so much – an abusive ex, your mother’s abandonment, temporary homelessness. With all those issues with people who you’ve brought yourself to trust, only to be extremely hurt by them, it is no wonder that you feel like you’re going through the motions of pretending in your current relationship and your intimacy issues with your boyfriend. In your mind, you may love your boyfriend – he certainly does sound good in paper.

    Yet if your heart is not willing to trust him to the point that you can give yourself permission to be vulnerable with him, whether it is in the physical intimacy of sexual relations or the ability to disclose to him your deepest emotions, you are not capable of having a relationship. With all that you’ve been through, I wouldn’t blame you if that were the case. I think you need to break up with him, yet not because you are not that into him – you should break up with him and move out because all this time on focusing on how you two stand as a couple is an obvious distraction on how you stand on your own.

    • avatar Jess October 31, 2011, 10:18 am

      I don’t agree that the reason she isn’t feeling it with her current boyfriend is that she isn’t capable of being in a relationship right now. There’s a huge possibility that she’s just over this particular guy, and there’s nothing wrong with her or her intimacy skills at all. I think losing feelings for someone who is good on paper, only to go on and meet someone else and have a fantastic relationship is quite common. She’s only 20! This is what people in their early 20s go through.

      • avatar SGAC October 31, 2011, 10:56 am

        There’s also the huge possibility that she’s also not giving herself the permission to invest emotionally and physically in the relationship considering her past abusive boyfriend and her relationship with her mother, yet she hasn’t brought herself to end it with her boyfriend because she doesn’t want to be alone and homeless again. I’m not saying that your reason isn’t wrong either – some relationships run their course and don’t necessarily equate to potential lifetime committment. I personally feel that the early 20s is too young to start thinking about marriage, but there are others who walk down the church aisle as soon as they get their college degree. Yet I also recognize that most people in their early 20s also don’t go through what this LW has.

        Despite the rationale, the conclusion is the same – she needs to end the relationship and current living conditions with her boyfriend. If he’s going to ask her why she had to do so, she can either tell him that the relationship fizzled the course, which could be the honest truth. Yet she could also tell him the overwhelming nature of all she’s been through with her abusive ex, her broken relationship with her mother and her homelessness and her desire to take care of herself first before she starts thinking in terms of coupledom, could also be the honest truth as well. The fact that she’s currently going through therapy and can’t bring herself to discuss her past without feeling physically nauseous and emotionally withdrawn, tells me that she needs to focus on taking care of herself first. The relationship, whether it is with this boyfriend or another one yet to be found in the distant future, can fall into place much easier when she is the best possible person she can be on her own first.

    • avatar Kristen October 31, 2011, 11:25 am

      Even though this is one of the least of their issues, I thought I’d bring up another reason she may not feel like having sex: their living situation. If I were the LW, and I were living with her boyfriend’s family, I would be really freaked out by the idea of having sex with her boyfriend’s mom in the next room (or down the hall, or whatever). Sex is as much about your mental desire as your physical desire. Maybe if they got out of that house for a weekend, she’d realize she was still attracted to him, just not in that house. I’ve been there, and it was frustrating to try to explain to my boyfriend why I couldn’t let everything go and be fully in the moment when, in the back of my mind, I’m constantly wondering if his parents could hear us. It’s hard to be sexy when those are your thoughts!

      With that being said, it still doesn’t sound like the right relationship for her. I just wanted to throw out a possible reason for the low sexual interest.

      • avatar Slamy October 31, 2011, 1:37 pm

        My ex-boyfriend and I moved in with my mom about 3 years ago because we had no money. It absolutely killed our relationship. I don’t regret it, because I’m at a better place in my life now and we probably would have broken up anyway, but yeah. Having sex in the same house that your parents are in? Couldn’t do it.

        • avatar LW October 31, 2011, 11:02 pm

          I’ve considered this…but my sex drive has gone completely. I used to watch porn and masturbate and have sexual feelings for cute celebrities and such…but I have absolutely no interest anymore. It isn’t limited to my boyfriend. I’ve gotten 2 physicals done and been tested for anything that could cause loss of libido. I’ve stopped taking birth control to see if that would help. It didn’t. I’m not on any of forms or types of medication.

  • avatar LittleLuWho October 31, 2011, 11:07 am

    I agree with most of what’s been said above, that you really owe this guy the decency of admitting to both him and yourself that this relationship isn’t “the one”, but want to touch on the lack of libido aspect.

    Personal story: About a year ago, my libido took a nosedive. I went off of an antidepressant and lost all desire to be physical with anyone, much less my bf who I’d been with 6 months at that point. It waxed and waned a little bit for a few months- some days I’d actually be in the mood and others I wouldn’t even want to cuddle- and then through the winter it just died entirely. My loss of sex drive has never had anything to do with my attraction to my bf- I’ve always loved every aspect of his body, his personality, how he handles himself, how he treats me- so we decided to try to ride it out. My bf was extremely patient and I did what I could to still be a good partner and make sure his needs were (relatively) fulfilled but this put a HUGE strain on our relationship. Even when things were great with us, this issue of me not being able to be physical with him was simmering on the back burner. I saw a doctor around February and all of my physical health checked out and I’d previously had a pretty high sex drive so I figured I could go just a little bit longer with the “wait and see”. Finally, in July, my sex drive started to come back with no real warning or notice. It’s not what it used to be and I’m definitely not rearing and ready to go every day but it’s coming back in bits and pieces and it was something we had to process and work through together as a couple and our relationship is a lot stronger now that we’re on the other side of the problem. The fact that my bf was willing to work with me on this was a huge sign of his character to me because what if something happened to my girl bits and I couldn’t have sex or do a handful of other intimate things? It wouldn’t mean I loved him any less and the fact that he understood that and did his best not to pressure me to just “fix it” really cemented, to me, how great the rest of our relationship is.

    That said, I would take a two-tiered approach and make it a point to unpack any issues you have with your body or being physical with your therapist as well as making an appointment with an OBGYN or a general practitioner to get some blood work done (check your testosterone levels! maybe change birth control if you’re on the pill/ring/patch/shot!) and rule out any physical causes. It’s possible that this is a symptom of the stuff in your past you want to forget (it doesn’t just go away, like it or not) and/or may have a medical component.

    Now everyone is going to jump down my throat about suggesting that the lack of libido doesn’t have anything to do with the relationship passion expiring. That (lack of passion) might be the only reason you don’t want to bone like bunnies anymore, but just in case it’s not, I’d say get it checked out- if even for the next person you’re with (which probably shouldn’t be for at least a few months and after you’ve had a chance to thoroughly process this relationship and your past).
    And don’t use this response as an excuse to not address the OTHER issues in your relationship! Because there appears to be a few.
    And I promise that it’s really ok if you and this guy aren’t meant to be together. I’m sure he’s great, but everyone has to kiss a few “toads” (even the cute and sweet and caring ones) before they find the prince.

    • avatar Kerrycontrary October 31, 2011, 12:19 pm

      I totally agree with you that it COULD be a medical issue. While I think it’s more likely that she’s just not feeling it with her boyfriend, there’s always the possibility of depression or any other hosts of medical problems is causing this lack of sex drive.

  • parton_doll parton_doll October 31, 2011, 11:32 am

    LW, to touch on a part of your letter that you didn’t ask for advice on … please reconsider discussing in more depth your past abusive relationship with your therapist. I am not saying that you should do it right now (especially since it evokes such a strong physical and emotional reaction from you) but please reconsider when you feel better able to process it. Burying experiences like that can take such an emotional toll on you and your future relationships. I am not saying that you are burying this experience, I am just cautioning you against it. It is possible that once you process this, it will be easier to have a solid and more fulfilling romantic relationship. Even though your life has been tough at a young age, keep moving forward and taking care of yourself. Sending you positive thoughts.

    As for the situation with your current boyfriend, hopefully you can use some of the advice that was given above to your benefit. Best of luck!

    • avatar amber October 31, 2011, 9:00 pm

      I completely agree with you. While it might not be the biggest issue going on in this relationship, it’s something she is going to have to deal with. I went through abuse from my father and as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that dealing with those issues has allowed me to be more present in my relationships. I did the typical build up a wall, don’t really let people thing in when I was a teenager and somewhat when I was in college. Therapy helped me to deal with those issues. And I found the more I talked about it and the more people I told the less sick/nervous it made me. I used to shake/get nauseous/etc whenever I thought about it or talked about it. Now I’m able to tell my story without feeling that way. I hope eventually the LW gets to a place where she no longer feels this way when she deals with those memories.

      • parton_doll parton_doll November 1, 2011, 1:30 pm

        Thanks for sharing your experiences and I am so happy that you have been able to work through your past issues :)

  • avatar HmC October 31, 2011, 11:59 am

    Couples counseling is not the place for a 20 and 22 year old. In Western culture, with the kinds of relationships and marriages that we want, that age is for learning about yourself and making mistakes and growing. Sure, be in counseling for yourself. But if you need couples counseling at 20, you should probably just break up and be alone for a while. Free yourself up to eventually find someone who is a better fit.

    It’s possible that a relationship at that age will grow into something mature and very long lasting. I think it’s more the exception than the rule, but of course it does end up working out for some people and I don’t deny that. But LW, your relationship has been going downhill for months. I suspect that if you weren’t living with him, you and your boyfriend would have ended it permanently long ago, instead of having to take these uncomfortable breaks where you are still forced to be around each other. Those breaks are your psyches trying to get away from each other because that’s what you should naturally be doing when a relationship doesn’t work any more. There are so many other worthwhile people out there for you to meet, that forcing a failing relationship at the age of 20 just strikes me as such a waste.

  • avatar AKchic October 31, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Oh dear. There is so much going on here that honestly, one thing isn’t going to help. Honey, you can’t make something work when it’s broken. Your relationship is done. You can’t rebake a finished cake, and expect it to come out better than ever, can you? No. That’s what you’re trying to do. It’s over. You want to keep trying to force yourself to have feelings that you think you should be having because this guy (and his mom) are letting you stay at his house, so you think you need to be in a relationship in order to have a roof over your head.
    This makes you a very weird prostitute. Trading a relationship for a place to stay. No wonder you feel weird.
    I get the whole feeling awkward about relationships after an abusive one, trust me, I do. You DO need to find a balance and talk things out to find a centering in order to move on and learn how to balance new relationships, otherwise you end up in limbo in future relationships. Do you want to continue in limbo like this again? No.

    End this psuedo-relationship. Find someplace else to live as soon as possible. Graduate and stay in therapy until you’re resolved.

  • avatar Rachelgrace53 October 31, 2011, 1:18 pm

    As a person who was in an abusive relationship for 3 years, I’m almost certain that a huge issue in your current relationship is that you’re not over what happened with the abusive ex. It’s ok not to be! That relationship of mine ended 3 years ago, but I still deal with the “leftovers” sometimes. I’d bet that your sudden lack of interest in sex almost certainly has something to do with that ex. Maybe something was triggered and it just shut you down. That factor along with the unnecessary guilt (possibly a response learned from your old relationship) on top of the desire to vomit just thinking about the ex makes me think that you should really go to counseling alone. This is much bigger than just your current relationship.

    I wish that I had let myself just be single and free of attachments so I could have had a while to deal with things. I didn’t really do that and I regret it. I couldn’t see how wounded I was and thought I could handle it, but I was wrong. So I strongly suggest getting some help in dealing with things, let yourself completely open up to someone about it (preferably a professional as most friends aren’t really equipped to deal with such intense things) and go through it all until you are really healed. Cry, scream, get a punching bag, do whatever you have to do to let it ALL out. I think that may help you a lot. For what it’s worth, I’m so sorry you were ever in that situation and I’m sorry for any effect it’s having on you now, but the best thing you can do for yourself and future relationships is to seek healing so you can move past it.

  • avatar Jiggs October 31, 2011, 2:52 pm

    I only read the first few comments, but I’ll add this as a possibility.

    Is it possible that you are going through a depressive episode, very stressful period in your life or even medication-induced lowered libido? I find it suspect that one day you woke up and suddenly didn’t want sex or affection anymore. Did all your sexual impulses leave, or just toward your boyfriend? Do you ever get turned on by anything/one? Do you crave affectionate touch (even if you don’t want your boyfriend to do that for you) or not at all? If all of a sudden you just have zero sexual desires and/or desires for affection, that could be a sign of a deeper problem.

    I have suffered bouts of severe depression where I just cannot stand to have anyone touch me and my libido dies almost overnight. The same thing can happen if I am in a prolonged high stress situation (like say, moving in with a boyfriend!) You also could consider whether you’ve made any recent lifestyle changes, like starting on the pill, that could be affecting your sex drive. If you can say no to all these things, then I would say this relationship has indeed fizzled. But if any of it rings true, then it would be worth at least going down that path to dig deeper. If it truly is one of these reasons, it’s going to follow you out of this relationship.

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 3:44 pm

    God, what a an incredible user. Meanwhile, one can only wonder as to exactly why her own mother kicked her out, but I digress. Look, just because you are desperate for a place to live doesn’t give you carte blanche to totally use a guy that you clearly don’t give a flying fuck about. The fact that you are also pretty much using his entire family only makes it worse.

    And I’m sorry, Regina, but your take on this one was the most anti-man (what’s the opposite of misogynistic?) I’ve seen from you yet in that you were WAYYYYYYYY too understanding. Oh, the poor LW, oh, woe is her! She is such a victim for feeling guilty. It’s eating her alive. Hell, yeah! It SHOULD be eating her alive! What she is doing is so blatantly wrong! She is stringing a guy along because she doesn’t want to live out of her car!! So, yeah! She should feel guilty because she is pretty much living the role a total user bitch. I mean, really! The audacity of staying with some sap because it’s convenient is just pathetic and disgusting. The fact that so many of you feel for the poor LW makes me 100 percent glad to be gay.

    And once again, if this were a man writing in — both the advice and the reactions would be laughably different!!

    PS — The best part is she is totally using him — blatantly so, but she then criticizes him as not being deep. I mean could she be any more of a narcissist? Yeah, it’s REAL deep to mooch off people and then constantly reject them sexually. You’re a regular Sylvia Plath, LW. Time to exit the Bell Jar. Your entire plight is all very trite.

    • avatar ReginaRey October 31, 2011, 4:33 pm

      You know Mark, most of the time I can at least understand your point of view. But this isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of being anti-man, which is absolutely untrue and blatantly ridiculous.

      Do I think it’s right for her to take advantage of her boyfriend so that she doesn’t have to live out of her car? No. But is this situation that black and white? Absolutely not! This LW isn’t some mean, nasty, conniving bitch looking to mooch off of a giving boyfriend. She’s CONFUSED. She loves this guy, or at least wants to love him for his good qualities, and doesn’t know why she can’t. She’s obviously been through a lot in 20 years (who KNOWS why her mom kicked her out, but for you to insinuate that it was entirely her fault is as anti-woman as you accuse me of being anti-man) including an abusive relationship.

      I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship. But let me tell you something – they fuck you up. Badly. Oftentimes, to the point that you don’t know how to have a healthy relationship. To the point where you move in with someone’s family because they offered you a place to live, and because your mom kicked you out, and because they were showing you kindness at a time in your life when you needed it most.

      That’s what I was doing. I was showing this LW some kindness. She doesn’t need people calling her a heartless bitch. I don’t know what kind of people you’ve encountered in your life, but most people aren’t heartless bitches. Most of us have been messed up by something. Some of us don’t know how to get ourselves out of less-than-ideal situations. Sometimes, we end up hurting other people in the process. That doesn’t make us bitches. It makes us HUMAN.

      This LW SHOULD take responsibility for her actions. She SHOULD realize that she is stringing her boyfriend along and that she’s using him, whether she knows it or not, for his living situation. But since when are relationships that black and white? Love, in whatever form it takes, clouds even the most reasonable persons judgment and their ability to evaluate their situation rationally. Add in a history of abuse and you’ve got someone who’s pretty damn confused and who needs some help sorting through their thoughts.

      I’m not going to apologize for being “WAYYYYYYY too understanding.” I try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt, and to empathize with the hurt, confusion, and feelings they’re trying to sort out. And besides, if you’re screaming at someone, that’s all they’re going to hear.

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 5:32 pm

        I’m not accusing you of being anti-man, but your advice in this case was oddly skewed to be OVERLY sympathetic to somebody who quite frankly wasn’t acting in a very nice way. To totally use somebody, so blatantly and so thoroughly and then to seemingly care ONLY about ones own feelings is NOT something a moral person does. And if the sexes were reversed her, I stand by my statement that your advice would be decidedly different.

        • avatar moonflowers November 2, 2011, 2:07 pm

          The axiom my therapist taught me was “Hurt people hurt people.” Ponder that for a moment.

    • avatar ReginaRey October 31, 2011, 4:53 pm

      And you know what? I’m pretty bothered by your comment that I’m anti-man, and that the advice given by me and most of the female commenters would have been different if this LW had been a man.

      I think that I, and most of the DW community, tend to give each LW (within reason) the benefit of the doubt. When they share a story, or share what their boyfriend said or did, we believe them. We base our advice and our assessment of the situation off of the LW’s interpretation of what happened.

      I’m reminded of last week, when I called a LW’s office crush a douchebag because of a response he gave that I thought was rather contrived. You know what? Who knows how he phrased his response in real life! All I can base my opinion in is the LW’s interpretation of what he said. What would you have us all do? Would you have us consider every possible meaning, every possible tone that could have been used, every possible scenario in regard to every LW’s boyfriend or romantic situation?

      It’s funny, because it seems an awful lot like you’d prefer us commenters on DW to be a bit more understanding and have a bit more patience for some of the men that the vast majority of female LWs write in about. And yet, I was just accused of being way TOO understanding for this female LW.

      I get that you think all of girls tend to band together and hate on men. I won’t deny that that happens at times, often borne out of our need to help “protect” our own. But at least in my case, if I’m flaming a man it’s usually because I’m basing it off of what the LW has shared. What else can you do? To give advice and to be at all constructive, you have to base your advice off of the letter you’re reading. Of course there’s way more to the story than what we’re reading, but we can’t know everything! We have to go with what we have.

      And I find it funny that you called me anti-man in this letter. I advocated for her to leave this relationship. Couldn’t I argue that I was in fact very PRO-man in my response, as I was trying to get her to stop dragging her boyfriend through a relationship that’s clearly spent?

      I know this will likely fall on deaf ears, but I wish you’d be a little less quick to spew vitriol on everyone – the LWs, me, and the rest of the commenters. Sometimes that kind of response has its place, but the vast majority of LWs are here for ADVICE.

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 5:42 pm

        The reason I went off on your douchebag comment last week is that it was utterly ridiculous considering how third hand the info was to begin with. I mean, come on! It was something he supposedly said to a coworker of the LW, who then repeated it to the LW, who then wrote about it to you in a her letter. You have no idea of HOW it was even said and yet you instantly labeled him as douchebaggy. Moreover, I never thought it was even remotely douchenbaggy in the slightest. It seemed very valid to me. And yet you went off and blamed him loudly and repeatedly.

        So, if people accuse you of being anti-man, perhaps instead of jumping to the defensive, you should perhaps take a step back and wonder why they would feel that way. I mean for crying out loud — look at THIS letter. Talk about a douchebag! This LW is all that and a bag of expensive, premium chips! But you don’t even remotely call her on her actions at all. No, it’s all about her feelings… Meanwhile, a guy says something you don’t like and he’s instantly and forever a douche…. Um, okay. Right. Tell me you aren’t even remotely biased. Tell yourself that, too. Maybe one of us will believe it.

        • avatar ReginaRey October 31, 2011, 5:59 pm

          “You have no idea of HOW it was even said and yet you instantly labeled him as douchebaggy.”

          And yet, over and over again, you angrily, nastily, and bitterly (and the rest of the DW community) flame LWs without knowing HOW things happened and HOW they were said. You are extremely quick to call this LW a “user” and a bitch and accuse her of being immoral, when perhaps she’s just a really confused, lost, emotionally wrecked girl who didn’t mean to “use” her boyfriend as she had.

          So perhaps you and I are one and the same? “A guy says something I don’t like, and he’s instantly and forever a douche,” meanwhile a girl shares her story with us and she’s instantly and forever labeled as a user and a bitch. You asked me to tell you I wasn’t biased…….isn’t that absurdly hypocritical of you?

          • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 6:00 pm

            Fine. Except when I am nasty it is much more warranted. Such in this example which is pretty much “Hi, I am shamelessly using a guy I don’t even want to cuddle with, how can I feel better about myself while I do it as I can’t afford to live on my own right now…”

            • avatar ReginaRey October 31, 2011, 6:12 pm

              Well then I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this particular letter. While I understand that the LW IS using her boyfriend, I don’t think she realizes it. I don’t think she’s actively thinking “I’m shamelessly using someone I don’t even want to have sex with.” I think there’s a LOT contributing to her mindset – her past abusive relationship, her situation wiht her mom, countless other experiences we don’t know about – and a LOT that is clouding her judgment. It’s clear that she WANTS to love her boyfriend, have sex with him, and make her relationship work, and I don’t think it’s because she doesn’t want to lose her living situation. I personally think you’re giving her way too much credit….for actually having an agenda. To me, this LW is too lost for an agenda.

              • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 6:33 pm

                Yeah, maybe she doesn’t realize it. ALL the more reason to call her out on it.

                • avatar ReginaRey October 31, 2011, 6:41 pm

                  Well yeah, calling attention to what she fails to see and understand is pretty necessary in order to change this situation. I guess you and I just have different ways of calling things out. I mean, your way is genuinely “you” and it’s good to see your side of things, but I’m going to keep being a bit “too understanding.” Maybe the LW will benefit from both.

            • avatar LW October 31, 2011, 6:44 pm

              LW here. I’ve already discussed with both my boyfriend and his mother what will happen if he and I break up. His mother has made it clear that she does not see us breaking up as a reason to kick me out of her house (my boyfriend’s sister and her ex both live here too), and he agreed that I should stay as well. I’m not staying in a relationship because I’m afraid I’ll be kicked out. I genuinely care about him and I want to make it work, because he’s a great guy. I’ve told him everything that I’ve been having doubts about, and we’ve agreed to try to work on it. I haven’t been trying to deceive him or use him at all. I’ve been so open with him about everything.

              And if you must know, my mother kicked me out because I wanted to remain in contact with her ex-husband, whose two children I grew up with as my siblings. She went through my e-mail and found that I had been communicating with him (just to see how my siblings were doing and such), and decided to leave me on his doorstep on my 19th birthday. She just isn’t mentally stable.

              • avatar ReginaRey October 31, 2011, 7:47 pm

                LW – While I’m glad you won’t be homeless if you and your boyfriend were to break up, I want to emphasize how very unhealthy it would be for you to break up with your boyfriend and continue to live in the same home as him. You wouldn’t be able to move on at all, and breakups are absolutely about STOPPING communication with an ex. It’s how you heal, recover, and become a stronger, wiser person. I really, really urge you to do what’s best for your mental health – and staying in that house (especially after a a breakup, but honestly in general) is NOT best for your mental health. It’s preventing you from doing some serious work on YOU.

                • avatar LW October 31, 2011, 9:00 pm

                  In theory, I know that moving out of this house (break-up or not) would probably be the best thing for my mental health and probably for my relationship/sex drive. Unfortunately, things aren’t always that easy. I tried and failed to support myself. I did have my own apartment (well, with a roommate) for a while and worked two jobs, but I just couldn’t afford to go to school and pay for my apartment. I don’t qualify for any federal loans because my father is extremely well off. He pays for my schooling, but does not see it as “his place” to provide shelter/living arrangements. I can’t find anyone to co-sign on a private loan. I teach preschool 3 days a week right now, go to classes two days a week, and student teach once a week. After paying for my apartment for a few months, I ran low on money, and eventually had to choose between food and shelter. I chose food, hence the living in my car. As much as I would like to move out on my own, I just don’t have the means to support myself right now. My mother did offer to let me move back in with her, but when I asked her to give me 24 hours notice if she wanted me to move out (so I would be able to find somewhere to stay), she said that that was “fucking ridiculous”, so I’m tentative about that. I suppose I should take that option into stronger consideration, and look into other options.

                  Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it.

                  • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 10:29 pm

                    All that is well and good. But it is NOT your boyfriend’s problem that you can’t support yourself. It might be his problem if you actually were in love with him — but clearly you aren’t.

                    • avatar LW October 31, 2011, 10:50 pm

                      You’re right, it’s not his problem. But I’ve discussed the situation with him and his mother. My point was that I’m not just dating him to have a place to stay. His mother has made it clear that I would still have a place even if I chose to break it off, as she has also provided for his sister’s ex-boyfriend and our friend who live with us.

                      I do love and care about my boyfriend, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be trying so hard to make this relationship work. But I’m not happy. I’m not heartless, and I’m not trying to manipulate anyone. I’m not telling my boyfriend that everything is perfect just so I can stay comfortable. I’ve been extremely honest with him about all my feelings and doubts. I even showed him this letter and all of the responses.

                      I respect your opinion that I am not doing the right thing by staying in this relationship and trying to work things out, but I’m not using him for a place to live. I know that if we break up, I will (at the very least) have a place to stay until I can find other arrangements.

                    • bittergaymark bittergaymark November 1, 2011, 12:07 am

                      Okay. Great. Then do that. Break up with him. And sleep on his family couch or something. It will be very interesting to see just how long everybody is cool with that. Seriously, maybe you will all work better platonic. But seriously, if you are not into your boyfriend you owe it to him to be upfront about that.

        • avatar Addie Pray October 31, 2011, 9:55 pm

          Here’s my 2 cents about the RR v. BGM feud, and it would help if I had a Dennis flow chart but I don’t: you’re both advocating that the LW move out. If she’s knowingly using her boyfriend and being a selfish bitch as BGM suggests, well, then neither RR’s nor BGM’s take on this is probably going to make the LW all of a sudden care and do the right thing (ie, stop using people and move out). But if the LW is truly confused and needs help sorting through her thoughts on this, RR’s advice has a better shot of making a positive difference. So, RR, keep being too understanding. But, BGM, keep entertaining me.

          • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 10:28 pm

            I still say, if you all REALLY think she doesn’t know that she is being a total user…well, then, all the more reason to tell her so.

        • avatar kf October 31, 2011, 11:49 pm

          Of course you’re right on the differeing treatments, but to be honest, I don’t think RR is anti-man. I think her bias is in favor of people she reasonably suspects might show up in the comments. The LWs regularly do; I don’t think a secondary character ever has. You’re willing to rip someone directly, I don’t think RR is. If the douchebag had shown up to defend himself in those comments, she’d be backtracking like crazy. Just a hunch.

          • avatar Addie Pray November 1, 2011, 12:17 am

            I disagree. RR is very direct. She is just much more constructive with her criticism. I think it’s easy to be sassy and throw out scathing one-liners. It’s harder to break it down and provide eloquent, effective advice, which is what RR does. But I’m a big RR fan, so maybe I’m biased -or maybe her thoughtful responses are more effective for me.

            • bittergaymark bittergaymark November 1, 2011, 12:26 am

              Usually she is pretty direct, yes. But not so much in this case. I mean, she didn’t even so much as suggest that the LW was kinda um gee sorta using the poor guy (and his mom!) as she desperately needs a place to crash… I mean, the only reason I am harping on this is because I feel that this is the REAL problem here. To help somebody NOT feel guilty without even bothering to point out that, gee, maybe they SHOULD feel guilty was to me a pretty big oversight.

          • avatar ReginaRey November 1, 2011, 7:27 am

            If a secondary character showed up, someone I had been less than nice to, I promise you I wouldn’t be backtracking. And honestly, I’m not sure what’s up with your pretty constant personal jabs at me. At least Mark tends to call out everyone and be pretty consistent in his approach. You, on the other hand, tend to direct your criticisms much more personally. I’m willing to rip you, your mother and most everyone else a new one…but it’s not constructive. When you communicate like that, no one listens to you. They jump on you for your approach, and very rarely listen to what you were actually saying. And OBVIOUSLY I’m biassed toward the LWs…they’re the ones we’re trying to help here! Jesus Christ.

            • avatar ReginaRey November 1, 2011, 7:46 am

              I also find it funny that you say Mark is “willing” to rip someone directly…as if he’s some sort of martyr. I don’t think it’s hard to call people idiots and bitches. I could definitely tell a lot of these LWs what I really think – You’re pathetic, you’re never going to find a lasting relationship, you’re a codependent mess – but as soon as you call someone a bitch, they tend not to listen to a word you have to say. So I rein in my outrage, and try to be calm, whether it’s in the guest columns or plain old commenting. I think it’s common sense.

            • avatar kf November 1, 2011, 9:37 am

              I guess it’s true that people will jump on you for your approach. I came here to defend you from Mark, I stated my belief that you’re not anti-man but pro-LW, you responded by explicitly saying you”re pro-LW and yet you seem pretty upset with me.

              I’ve never criticized you personally; I have nothing against you personally at all. Sometimes I disagree with what you say, and I say so. The thing about Mark being more “willing” to criticize someone directly wasn’t meant to say he’s better; just trying to explain what I perceive to be your different approaches. On this particular LW, I agree with you more than Mark. I don’t think you were too easy on her. Sometimes his approach is necessary, and it’s almost laways helpful IMO to give the LW different perspectives to think about.

              My overall opinion is, it doesn’t actually help the LW’s to be biased in their favor, to interpret every ambiguity in the best possible light for them, to rip to other characters in their stories, or to say that the truth of a situation doesn’t matter in the face of validating an LW’s feelings, whatever their basis. If they want someone to pat them on the head and give them the Stuart Smalley treatment I presume they have “friends” and family for that sort of thing. I assume they write to online advice columnists to get objective, outside opinions; if I see an angle that isn’t being considered I’ll say so. Not saying that makes me “good” and you “bad”, just trying to explain where my comments come from.

              One last personal note: I’m not a “me too” kind of commentor who shows up on every thread to hear myself talk, usually the other commentors have evrything covered. I’ll only say something when I disagree, it’s just my nature. I agree with your comments at least 75% of the time, I onlly speak up on the ocassions when I disagree. I’m not out to get you or constantly take shots at you. Obviously I’ve left the wrong impression which is my fault; I’ll try to be more clear in my comments in the future.

              • bittergaymark bittergaymark November 2, 2011, 2:15 pm

                Yeah, kf, I totally think that being biased TOWARDS the LetterWriters on here would actually often be doing them a HUGE disservice. RR will probably disagree with me on that point, and that’s fine, I guess. But it is very interesting to think that Wendy herself often seems to take great pains to not be biased towards her LWs…

      • avatar kf October 31, 2011, 11:53 pm

        “I’m reminded of last week, when I called a LW’s office crush a douchebag because of a response he gave that I thought was rather contrived. You know what? Who knows how he phrased his response in real life! All I can base my opinion in is the LW’s interpretation of what he said. What would you have us all do? Would you have us consider every possible meaning, every possible tone that could have been used, every possible scenario in regard to every LW’s boyfriend or romantic situation?”

        Before labelling someone the mayor of doucheville? Jesus Christ on a cracker, yes. The LW’s aren’t the only people with complicated backstories.

    • avatar Rachelgrace53 October 31, 2011, 7:09 pm

      Just curious. Do you ever have ANYTHING to say other than “LW is an idiot/bitch and if a man were saying this, you’d all be pissed!!!” ? I mean really, do we need to hear that with every single letter?

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 31, 2011, 10:27 pm

        Um, go see me thoughts on the OTHER letter today.

  • CatsMeow CatsMeow October 31, 2011, 4:49 pm

    LW -

    I, too, was once in an abusive relationship. It’s been several years since he’s been out of my life, and I STILL sometimes feel the urge to vomit when I talk about him or think about him or when someone brings him up in conversation. But it’s rare these days. Every day it’s less and less. I don’t know how long ago you got out of your abusive situation, but do know that it gets better. For a LONG time, I wouldn’t even acknowledge it to myself. I couldn’t even bring myself to write about it in a journal. Eventually I said the words out loud to a therapist. And it’s gotten better over time.

    I actually got raped, like, as soon as I started to try dating again after that. So once I *thought* I was starting to get over it and “put myself out there”, I was re-traumatized. I didn’t have sex for almost 3 years.

    So while our situations are not identical, I do feel like I kinda know where you’re coming from. The first guy I dated after all that mess was one of the nicest guys ever, and we had a lot in common, and I was attracted to him, but…. I did not even come CLOSE to having sex with him. It was not there. And eventually it fizzled because I just wasn’t “feeling it”. This happened a second time: I started dating a super nice guy who I had known for many years, and we already had friends in common, and he treated me spectacularly and we DID have sex, which was a huge step for me, and he knew a little about what I had been through and he was supportive, etc. etc. etc. – but again, there was something in my gut that just told me GET OUT NOW!!!! I knew, logically and rationally, that he wasn’t going to hurt me physically or otherwise, and I can’t explain why I ended this relationship other than something inside me was telling me it wasn’t right.

    This is how I explain it now – but at the time, I thought there was something wrong with ME. I thought that I was permanently traumatized and that I wasn’t going to ever be able to date anyone ever again. I thought that I lost my ability to feel. I thought I was broken, and I couldn’t figure out WHY I couldn’t make it work with a really nice, awesome guy.

    So I went to therapy (again). And I also considered that I might just not be a relationship-oriented person because honestly, I’m perfectly fine being single. I love being alone, and I have lots of friends and family that keep me company and fill some/most of the roles that a romantic companion could fill. I couldn’t figure out if it was the trauma that left me unable to be in a relationship, or if I was just destined to be single forever because of my individual personality traits.

    It turns out, I just hadn’t met the “right” guy. And don’t get me wrong – that’s not all it takes! I got myself to a place where (1) I was completely comfortable with myself, and felt “whole” as an individual and wasn’t looking for anyone to “complete” me or anything like that and (2) LOTS of time had passed, so I had processed a lot and had been in and out of therapy, so while even now I’m not completely “over it” (I guess don’t ever expect to be completely), I’m close enough. And then BOOM! I met the “right” person. And everything fell together.

    You’ll get there, LW. But this probably isn’t the right time for you to be in a serious relationship, and it’s likely that this guy isn’t the “right” guy for you either. I think that most people can benefit from the advice we often give others: to work on yourself first before you can be ready to commit to a relationship – but for those of us who have survived abuse or other such trauma, it’s even MORE important and true.

    I think you need to be on your own for a while. Continue therapy, by yourself, get out of your BF’s house ASAP, process your trauma, and then when a guy that’s right for you comes along, you’ll be ready.

  • Chicago-Dude DudeInChicago October 31, 2011, 7:30 pm

    LW, sorry to beak it to you, but you’re bring a (resource & emotional) mooch. Stop it!

    Dude’s only crime is that he’s a nice kid from a generous family and he really likes you.
    So you don’t feel it for him anymore, and that’s fine but move along and stop stringing him and his family along. Life’s not fair, but what you’re doing is taking advantage of their generosity and the dude’s like of you.
    It’s not fair to pin all your misfortunes (and we all have had our own individual misfortunes…) on this one family and thereby making it difficult for the nice guy to find him a girl who will appreciate and reciprocate his love like you aren’t.

    You’re 20, and that is young but not that young so you can chose to look at this as a lesson to learn – “…do onto others…”
    So be a big girl – stand on your own feet. Break it off and for the love of God, move out.

    • Chicago-Dude DudeInChicago October 31, 2011, 7:32 pm

      Dah! MyTouch phone sucks!
      Correction: being, not bring.

  • theattack theattack October 31, 2011, 10:00 pm

    LW,

    I’ve been in a similar situation. I needed a place to stay and didn’t have any other options I could afford available, so I moved in with my bf. The relationship was not fulfilling, and I didn’t really love him. If I could get back those two years of my life, I would do incredible things with them. This guy may not be hurting you, so it could be easy for you to want to stay. But if you don’t break up with him, you’re going to be wasting your life which you can never get back. You want to do amazing things in your early 20s that you’ll never again have the chance to do. I finally got out by asking everyone if they knew anyone who needed a roommate. I looked at postings at the University Center on my campus. You can also post ads in your school newspaper looking for roommates and an apartment. If that doesn’t work out, dorms are better than the situation you’re in, and you can pay for those with student loans.

    And, I would avoid this situation for as long as you can, but you can look at transitional housing programs in your city. They’re not exactly like homeless shelters, because they’re intended for living there at least for six months, usually over a year. The transitional housing facility at my agency has housed college students in similar situations to yours before, and they often stay until they graduate. It’s not ideal, but it’s thirty times better than sleeping in your car. If you don’t know where to start in finding one, I would be more than happy to help you. Maybe Wendy could facilitate an exchange of email addresses if you need some help.

    But you have to get out of where you are and take care of you before you don’t have the chance to anymore. My favorite movie quote from Madea’s Family Reunion: “Love is many things. It varies. One thing it is not and never can be is unsure.”

    • theattack theattack October 31, 2011, 10:05 pm

      Also, you probably do need to process some things regarding your previous abusive relationship on your own. Don’t do this with your boyfriend present, because you need your own individual attention to this (I am saying this as someone who does counseling for domestic violence and works in a shelter). His presence will distort your counseling session and hinder achievement of your own goals. You can go to the counseling center at your university for individual counseling, or if you would like a resource for outside counseling for domestic violence, I can help you find that.

  • avatar Melancholia October 2, 2012, 1:06 pm

    LW, it sounds more like you are depressed, than just in a dead-end relationship. I’m not saying that the relationship is RIGHT for you or that you should stick it out if you are unahppy, but your lack of interest in general and the sadness that oozes out of your post leads me to believe that there are deeper underlying issues.

    Have you ever been to counseling to deal with your abusive relationship other than seeing the relationship counselor with your boyfriend? Have you seen this current counselor by yourself? You didn’t divulge much information on your previous relationship, but, whether you like it or not ANY absusive relationship takes a heavy toll on its victim(s). Just brushing it off and “leaving it in the past” is not a healthy or productive way to actually deal with the pain. People don’t just miraculously recover from abusive relationships, it takes recognition, determination and help from outside sources.

    It sounds to me like you are unhappy in general with your life and that it’s starting to affect your relationships in general. You also don’t have a good relationship with your own mother, so that is another heavy issue that hasn’t been dealt with. I think you could benefit heavily from seeing a separate therapist, or continue to see the one you currently go to if you feel comfortable with that one. I feel like these personal issues you are going through are more complicated than the simple advice anonymous people can give you on the internet.

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