(relationship filter] Please help me choose between true love and great sex. Of course, I don’t really mean that. But I do need help making a decision and whatever I decide to do, someone’s heart is going to be broken.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (47 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I am paralyzed by fear about hurting anyone so that is why I need your advice. (I am so sorry that is long, but I have been trying to write this Ask Metafilter question for months).
I am a woman in my mid-twenties. For several years, I have been an on-again off-again relationship with a man, also in his mid-twenties. We met during college and had a very close friendship. Then we became boyfriend and girlfriend. About two years later, I moved to his hometown and we got a house together. Let’s call him K.
To give you an idea of our relationship, I think we were the “perfect” couple. We shared a unique philosophy, we shared the same spiritual beliefs, we had the same offbeat sense of humor... We were the kind of couple that collaborated on music-making; we made large-scale art installations together; we volunteered in foreign countries together; and we read books from the public library together. We were the kind of couple that strangers exclaimed at “You two are so cute!” We were the kite-flying, mixtape-making, screen-printing, bird-watching, cake-baking kind of couple. K made me laugh outloud every day and when I hugged him, I felt more love than I ever thought possible. When we talked about the future, we both wanted the same things: to save and travel around the world together, to get married and have a child together in the next 10 years, to do Peace Corps together, to work for social justice, and so on. When we would kiss beneath our favorite tree, I would feel like there couldn’t possibly be a love more pure and true than ours. You know what I’m talking about, MeFites?
There were, however, two serious problems that led to us breaking up.
1. First, he struggled with jealousy. He repeatedly interrogated me for hours about the boyfriends I had before him, going back to high school. These kinds of sessions would leave me crying and would leave him dissatisfied with my responses. Questions would range from “When did you lose your virginity?” to “How many times did you sleep with your last boyfriend?” and on and on. If I even spoke to another guy, K would become alternately sullen or emotional. When we were living together, I felt extremely isolated. K insisted that we leave social events early if I talked to other guys (I would routinely be home in bed by 11 pm on a Saturday night at age 23) and he insisted that I was cheating on him. On a trip with my best friend, I became buddies with a younger guy who reminded me of my little brother. When I told K about the nice conversations I had with him, K became upset and thought I had hooked up with the kid. This behavior left me feeling hysterical and like I had no options available for making friends. He criticized my female friends too – “her art sucks”, “she is crazy”, “she seems lame” were comments he made about my female friends. During the year we lived together, I spent New Year’s Eve alone with him, I spent my birthday alone with him, and I spent every weekend alone with him. I felt like I had no one else in my life except him. So towards the end of the year, when I had the opportunity to visit friends in another town, I went. After just a day or two there, I began to feel like myself again. I stayed up late, I got excited about making my own art, I talked to guys and other women without worrying. My friends said “Everyone here thinks you rule!” and they casually suggested that I move there and live with them. After a few more visits, I decided to do it! This decision led directly to me breaking up with K.
2. Second, K had never dated anyone before me. I was his first kiss at age 21. I was not very experienced sexually and he had no experience at all, so our intimate life was… nonexistent. We didn’t have sex until we had been dating for three years. Neither of us even realized how strange that was until much later. And in case you are wondering, there wasn’t much of any other kind of intimacy either aside from kissing and holding hands. When we finally had sex, it became clear that we were rather awkward together. It also became clear that K probably had an issue with premature ejaculation. No matter what we did, intercourse would only last a minute or two. This became rather disheartening for both of us, but especially for me. Neither of us had the confidence to talk about it with each other or to our close friends. When I broke up with K, I did not consciously think to myself, “I am doing this because our sex life is miserable.” However, I was so devastated by the break-up that I began seeing a therapist for depression and suicidal thoughts. It was awful to suddenly have K out of my life and he seemed so angry with me. After months of therapy, I was able to admit that our lack of intimacy made me really unhappy. My therapist helped me feel a lot less guilty for wanting a more sexually complete and less controlling relationship.
So, as I said before, I moved to a new city about 12 months ago. There, I developed an active social life and even began dating again (though I kept thinking about K and reaching out to him to try to rekindle our friendship). I got a new boyfriend – let’s call him S. In a bizarre change for me, S and I had amazing sexual chemistry. I feel like it’d be obnoxious to go into detail, but let’s just say on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 15. I imagine that what we have what Gossip Girl screenwriters like us to imagine Chuck and Blair have going on. I know, “Ew” but you get what I’m saying? And it’s not just great intimacy. S had a crush on me years ago when his band came through my college town on tour. He reportedly told a mutual friend “I could marry that girl” after we first met. He has been 100% committed to me and we have fun together. I feel relaxed with him. So what is the problem? Well, S doesn’t hold a candle to K in any department outside of the bedroom. I can’t picture myself marrying him and he certainly wouldn’t do Peace Corps with me or even go to the public library on a Saturday. His parents still pay some of his bills and he goes out drinking 4 or 5 nights a week after playing music. He sleeps in until noon on most days. Forget about having a steady job or a plan for his future. I hate to say it, but I think you could call S your typical hipster man-child. Recently, we started talking seriously about my plans to leave the country for an extended period of time for volunteer work. He admitted that he wanted me to cancel my plans and stay with him, or he was thinking about breaking up with me right before I got on the plane. I took a deep breath and ended our relationship. Shortly afterward, he begged to get back together and pledged that he would never leave me. I didn’t say yes, but I didn’t say no either. I told him I wanted to cut off communication and that I would think over what he had said for an indefinite period of time.
With that hanging over my head, I decided to see K again. We spoke honestly and openly about the two problems I described above. He surprised me by revealing that he had done a lot of soul-searching and research on those issues. He unequivocally apologized for isolating me and for pressuring me to talk about my love life with previous boyfriends. He demonstrated that he had begun hanging out with female friends one-on-one and he said that realized that he had been unfair in making so many assumptions about my friendships with other males. He even dated another woman for a while, but he ended it because he didn’t feel that special spark.
For me, it was so easy to remember all of the awesome/beautiful parts of our relationship. We talked about getting back together. We went on a date. We held hands. We kissed. We slept together (unfortunately, it lasted only a few minutes). He said “I love you” and I said it back. Now, I am really confused.
MeFites, please be gentle. I swear to you my life is usually filled with reading books at home or volunteering at a homeless shelter -- not these kinds of antics. I don’t want my life to resemble a soap opera and I do not want to hurt K or S. But I am so torn about what to do next that I am making myself physically sick.
So here is it, stated plainly because anonymity makes it possible to do this: I want to reunite with K because I know we could build a beautiful life together, full of volunteering and family and travel and art and our shared dreams. I am confident that K will propose to me within the next 5 years if we got back together. I know would be a wonderful husband and father who would do everything he could to take care of his family. I know he would support me in my dreams to travel, to attend graduate school, and to continue to be an artist. I miss his companionship so deeply. It hurts to make art or climb trees or play music without him. But the thought of returning to our lackluster sex life has me terrified of feeling unfulfilled. And when I think of my recent relationship with S, I feel a longing for our intimacy. The thought of never feeling that way again makes me want to cry, as pathetic as that sounds.
So, MeFites: tell me please, if you have/had a relationship with a disappointing sex life and you have stayed together, how did you make it work? Did you get married? How is it working out? Do you regret your decision?
And if you decided that great sex/intimacy was more important than other qualities, how has that decision turned out for you? Do you regret not choosing a partner who could have been your match in other ways instead?
What do you think I need to understand about my decision? Follow-up email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.