Are we wrong for each other or too scared to try?
January 28, 2012 3:36 PM Subscribe
My partner and I feel comfortable and safe in our relationship, and we feel love for one another. But we are sexually unfulfilled, and to a smaller extent emotionally and/or intellectually troubled. How do we know whether to break up or to work at it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This is long, and introspective, and dry, and I'm sorry for that. I don't feel very lighthearted right now.
My partner and I have been together for 4 years. These years have been the happiest either of us has ever been, but we're now faced with the terrible cliché that "love is not enough."
We both entered in to the relationship with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. She, because of bad relationships, trauamatic childhood and experiences with depression. Me, because of having no previous romantic relationships, and at one time suffering from serious social anxiety.
We carved a safe life for ourselves with one another, by taking it slow and supporting each other. Our sex life has never been great, bordering on non-existant. We tend to go months without any sexual interaction. I have always been dissastisfied with this, but was so afraid of losing her (or being alone) that I didn't challenge it. To begin with, she didn't care, as she was simply happy to be with someone and develop other aspects of the relationship.
We are now both dissatisfied with this situation, but there are still a lot of anxieties, a lack of experience, and a lack of passion to contend with. We've built the relationship on a foundation of childlike comfort and safety, and sex seems incongruous with that.
There are also other problems with dropping emotional fulfillment. My partner has depression, which takes up a lot of the relationship's time. She's also very open and sharing with her interests, and reliant on me for most of her social interaction. I'm more closed and private, and get a lot of my social fulfillment from friends. I'm also timid, and so don't share my interests.
This creates a horrible imbalance, where my partner feels like the relationship is too much about her and that she's missing out on a deeper connection with me. Equally, I feel unfulfilled because my emotional needs aren't being paid as much attention as my partner's, and our world is so much about her interests.
None of these problems feel like anyone's fault, but like an unfortunate clash of personality types and neuroses.
We've talked about some of these problems over the years, but in the past week have begun to face them more head on. We talk about the issues and we talk about working on them, via therapy or other routes.
But these conversations always seem to steer towards splitting up. This might be to do with how hard and frightening the problems are, and our desperate need for closure to end the pain and confusion of uncertainty.
When we do start to seriously imagine splitting up - and the loss of our lives, our potential future together, and all we provide for one another - we both end up in tears. It seems so painful. We are so comfortable and secure together, and enjoy each other's company, and hug a lot. We are best friends.
But we still keep steering the conversation towards the reasons why the relationship isn't working, and the ways it might never work. We consider that staying together might be forever denying ourselves a fulfilling sexual life. I consider that I might never have another relationship if we don't split up, and this scares me. We are both scared of distracting ourselvse through decades of these issues persisting, and denying ourselves the opportunity to grow as people or to be fulfilled.
And we consider whether what we have is enough, and whether we'd regret the decision to break up for the rest of our lives because we have so much that is wonderful.
We go round and round, and so I'm hoping other people might have some advice or experiences to share. I have a throwaway email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!