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How to deal with sexual jealousy in a relationship?
June 2, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend sometimes expresses sexual attraction to other girls when he's with me and I'm wondering if a) his actions are reasonable, b) my reaction to this is reasonable or c) if there are underlying issues behind this that need to be addressed.

FYI I'm 24, female, and started dating this guy, P, a little over four months ago.

Overall P is a great boyfriend - he's very loving and affectionate and committed and I have no reason to believe that he would cheat on me.

He's a pretty strange guy, and quite different to all the other guys I've dated previously. I guess you'd say he's not my usual 'type', but I love him and value our relationship.

On a couple of occasions he's said or done things that have really upset me. The first time was shortly after we started having sex, when we revealed our fantasies to one another. I know this can be minefield territory for some people, but I was cool about it at the time (I guess I wasn't so emotionally invested in the relationship at that stage either). He revealed that he was turned on by the idea of group sex/swingers/orgies and that it was something he wanted to try. I halfheartedly admitted that it was something I might try, but definitely not with someone to whom I was emotionally attached, so he knows where I stand on the issue and has never actually asked me to do it. One night P suggested watching porn together and he asked me if I wanted to be the girl in this video, and I said I did (the video was in the category of one of my fantasies). I then asked him (because I felt awkward and didn't know what else to do/say) if he wanted to be the guy in the video, and he said 'yeah...especially if I got to fuck her'. I didn't say anything at the time because I didn't want to ruin the moment, but it upset me, the way he was focused on her and fantasising about fucking her (I know, I know, I asked the question and I got the response). We watched porn maybe once or twice after that and each time it was hurtful to see him transfixed on this image of another girl, as if I wasn't even there. It just made me feel so shitty and inadequate. Afterwards I told him I'm not really into watching porn together and we haven't done it since then. I totally get that it's normal to fantasise about other people, and that most guys have a desire to sleep with multiple women, but it's not something I want to hear about. And I don't think most guys would talk about this stuff openly with their girlfriends (and rightly so), for fear of upsetting them.

On a couple of other occasions he's upset me - once when he was not-so-subtly checking out a well-endowed girl at the gym (and later tried to make up for this by saying he used to think he liked big boobs but now he finds my small boobs extremely sexy), and another time when he said that he finds athletically toned women attractive and that whenever he sees a girl with abs he imagines that she's really great in bed (since he goes to the gym quite a bit, my jealousy kicked into overdrive after hearing that). For the record, I am not well-endowed or athletically toned (I'm your typical Asian girl - short, on the slender side and not curvy) and am sometimes insecure about my body.

P seems very preoccupied with sex in general - he has a high sex drive and wants to talk about sex a lot (he tries to 'sext' me most days, talks about past sexual partners, mentions that he finds certain girls attractive, and will, out of the blue and in non-sexual settings, describe his fantasies to me). I know that mental landscape is pretty normal for guys, but it just doesn't seem appropriate for him to communicate those things to me. Each time he says something that upsets me, I do my best to calmly express my hurt, and P always responds with genuine regret and concern, and apologises sincerely, but I don't think he really understands how or why I feel the way I do; he just feels bad for upsetting me. We seem to smooth things over fine, but I wish he was more sensitive to my perspective. He also knows that I go through episodes of depression and have previously struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

I get that I need to work on my self-esteem, but am I right in thinking that he is in the wrong here? After expressing my hurt on several occasions, you'd think that'd be enough for him to stop putting his foot in his mouth. Sometimes I get paranoid and think that he's doing this to plant seeds of insecurity in me, so that I'll seek his approval and become more attracted or more attached to him, because isn't that one of the theories of 'The Game' and PUAs? I know that he's read extensively on that sort of thing.

What's even more unsettling is that I've started taking on this hurt as sexual fantasy. When we're having sex, or when I'm masturbating, I fantasise about him fucking other women and debasing me by making me watch or making me participate against my will. Whenever I want to orgasm, that's what I fantasise about. I feel like I'm starting to become fixated on it. I have amazing orgasms but I feel awful afterwards; I get this real visceral experience of jealousy and inadequacy, like there's something festering away inside me. It makes me feel so alone; I don't want to tell him about these fantasies because I can't stomach the idea of him fantasising about these things too (even though he might already...though maybe not to the extreme that I do, and maybe without the sadomasochistic bent).

I guess my question is...am I being crazy/neurotic? It's been getting to me more lately, and sometimes he'll say something that will send me tail-spinning into a very dark place. These feelings with P are all new to me as I'm usually very level-headed and have always been made to feel like I'm completely and exclusively desired by my partner, even though I know, intellectually, that it's a just one of those pretty illusions we uphold in relationships (but dammit, I want the illusion!).
posted by sweetshine to Human Relations (72 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
He revealed that he was turned on by the idea of group sex/swingers/orgies and that it was something he wanted to try

His actions all seem to be trying to lead you down that path. Your fantasies would seem to show you're going down that path as well. Is this something you would want to do?

If not, do you feel comfortable telling him your boundaries? If not that... Do you want to keep seeing him?
posted by RainyJay at 11:08 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


There are a million dudes who will not do this. This is not "normal" dude behavior you have to put up with it. I'm not saying DTMFA, I'm saying if/when you eventually do, the next guy is likely going to be so much more respectful about this sort of thing.

You are not being crazy.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:10 AM on June 2 [67 favorites]


He is not that into you and you, after 4 months, already love him. Which is weird. He maybe into multiple partners or open relationships. What talks have you had about being "committed"? There is another school of thought out there amongst guys who read books such as The Game where they learn tactics on how to keep a woman on her toes. He could be a player like one of them so he most likely is playing mind games with you.

All in all this doesn't look too promising for you or healthy. You need to back off, chill and go cold on this guy. Let him do the dance, you shouldn't be dancing to his tunes. In the first few months you always should be an observer to notice things about a guy. It is NOT the time to profess love for someone.
posted by jbean at 11:12 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]


It is completely normal and fine for both people in a relationship to have sexual fantasies/thoughts/desires/whatever about other people and to check other people out. What isn't fine is communicating these thoughts to the other person in a way that is hurtful, especially after the other person expressed that they were hurt by it/made them feel insecure/etc.

I would say that you need to tell him more or less exactly what you've written here. If he doesn't change the way he communicates with you regarding his sexual fantasies etc., then that probably says something significant not just about his sexual desires but about his feelings toward you generally, and I would strongly consider moving on to someone more respectful of what you need.

I have pretty unorthodox notions of monogamy and the extent to which someone is attracted to only one person, but I do not think you're being at all unreasonable or neurotic.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:21 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


It's sad that you feel alone in what should be a very intimate relationship.

Sometimes I get paranoid and think that he's doing this to plant seeds of insecurity in me
That doesn't sound paranoid. That's what is happening. Whether or not it's conscious on his part does not really matter. You're not crazy. You're not neurotic.

I've only had one boyfriend do this type of thing to me and it had a lot of ramifications. I am being honest when I say that I haven't looked at another woman the same way since, and I haven't even spoken to him for two years. I compare myself to literally every woman I see now and it's really unpleasant and makes me feel bad.

No other man that I've ever dated has even checked out another woman with me - at least not in a way that was visible to me. Obviously they're checking other ladies out, but they don't let me know. It's not an illusion to keep that type of thing to yourself, by the way: it's just kind and right. Have you checked out another man since starting dating this guy? Probably, almost certainly. Did you tell him about it or make it known? Probably not. Why not? Was it to maintain an illusion or was it because it is entirely unnecessary to tell your partner that kind of shit because no good can come of it but it can result in great harm to them?

This guy might be very good at acting kind about other things but this is a tremendous unkindness, and it's one that is making you question yourself and your own sanity.

I don't want to be hyperbolic but I have to say that were I in your position I would turn around and find a man who treated me better than this. You deserve to be with someone who treats you well and who doesn't twist his crummy behavior into something that is your fault and your problem.

All the best to you.
posted by sockermom at 11:23 AM on June 2 [38 favorites]


Repeatedly talking about other people you're attracted to or your exes with the person you're actually dating is really rude and not at all normal behavior. He's a jerk and/or an idiot.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:23 AM on June 2 [9 favorites]


I wouldn't say he's not that into you; I don't know why the poster above would say that. My sense is that neither of you are intrinsically wrong for behaving or thinking in the way you do - there are lots of relationships where people are open about their crushes/attraction to other people; watch porn together, etc...and there are lots of other relationships where people do not.

Where he is going wrong is in not respecting your desire to maintain those boundaries, and to inflict the knowledge of his extracurricular desires (so to speak) onto you. It may turn him on to do that to you; it may be even more of a thrill for him knowing that it makes you uncomfortable. This is not okay. Consent is important, and you have not consented to participate in this kind of "play."

If I were you, I would sit him down for one last talk. Lay out, in no uncertain terms, that you do not want to hear about his desire for other women, either in reality or the abstract. Tell him that kind of discussion is out-of-bounds for you - it makes you uncomfortable and unhappy. And if he refuses, or agrees but then backslides again, you need to end it, because a guy who doesn't understand and respect those boundaries is a guy who will hurt you. End of story.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 11:23 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


People are going to be attracted to people who aren't the person they're currently dating. This is fact. Other people continue to exist and be hot.

Especially if we're talking about, like, a woman in a video that you guys are watching together. I mean, what, is he supposed to not view media that has other women in it? Is he supposed to protest if you suggest doing that?

I think it wasn't wonderful of him to say how attracted he was to the woman in the porn video, but if he doesn't know that jealousy is hard for you on this extreme of a level, he might not have known to self-censor.

he tries to 'sext' me most days, talks about past sexual partners, mentions that he finds certain girls attractive, and will, out of the blue and in non-sexual settings, describe his fantasies to me

You guys are in the early stages of dating. Different strokes and all, but I have often considered it a warning sign when someone I'd been dating for only a few months didn't ever talk about sex with me or do anything spontaneously sexy. Talking about past partners is a different kettle of fish (something you may need to warn him about if it bothers you), but still by no means a red flag.

Bottom line, though, it sounds like you're not enjoying this, and you don't need our permission to break up with this dude. You should be with someone who makes you feel good, and you shouldn't have to work on yourself to keep a relationship of just a few months. Go find someone you're more compatible with.
posted by Sara C. at 11:25 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


Noooooo no no no. This is absolutely not ok. The part where you started masochistically fantasizing about him with other women, and feeling awful afterwards? YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS. For no other reason, please leave this person; this is going to kill you and make future intimate relationships so complicated. Oh please trust me on this.
posted by celtalitha at 11:26 AM on June 2 [37 favorites]


If it’s bothering you, then it’s a problem to be addressed with him. I personally do have those kinds of conversations with my partners, talking about how much we enjoy other people’s bodies and such, so I don’t consider it odd… for me, it’s part of being completely honest and upfront and, when I am someone’s primary partner, to give both of us an outlet for talking about that sort of thing. But I’m not you.

Given that it does sound like he attempts to change his behavior when you ask him to, I don’t see any reason to believe that he’s intentionally being insensitive to you. But since it IS a problem for you, you need to ask him to stop or talk through it with him and find a way to feel secure in your relationship.
posted by metasarah at 11:29 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


This sounds like a very unhealthy situation for you. P may not be intentionally trying to drive you into dark, unhealthy places, but it doesn't sound like he's sensitive enough to readjust his behavior so that it doesn't harm you with his repeated "foot in mouth".

I'd say that you should talk to him about it, but it sounds like you already have. Repeatedly. This is not likely to improve and you should not damage yourself in order to go along with the situation like a "cool girlfriend". Not all men are like this. Being attracted to others is natural, but there are men out there who can manage to refrain from being leering creeps at the gym and who can be far more sensitive to your boundaries. Find one of them and you'll be much happier.
posted by quince at 11:29 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]


P.S. I started doing this, involuntarily, after my ex cheated on me. I never did it before, and it was a direct product of how utterly shitty and miserable I felt about myself after the cheating and the things he told me about why he cheated. I think this is the same kind of thing. Your boyfriend is not cheating per se, and it's fine of him to be attracted to other people, but being so cavelier about you and your feelings is just such a red flag to me. He might not even be doing it maliciously, he may just be immature and stupid, but the capacity for this to cause YOU real and lasting harm is very very real.

Oh and you've struggled with body image/eating disorder issues already?? I missed that part. Multiply everything I already said by 10, and consider why you are attracted to someone like this in the first place.
posted by celtalitha at 11:30 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


I was ready to give the dude the benefit of the doubt for being an inconsiderate or clueless dude who likes to talk and think about sex, but him having read extensively on PUA stuff (and I assume not in a "ha ha look at this dumb shit" way) cooled that idea.

Either way, this isn't some sort of inherently appropriate behavior. Some people are totally fine with it, and that's cool. But if you're not, and you haven't had a Serious Talk about this, then you should. Not a talk having to do with how he's being inappropriate at the moment but in general: "hey, I'm really not cool with you leering at women in front of me or talking about how much you'd like to have sex with them. Please cut that shit out because it makes me uncomfortable and feel bad about myself." It's not a weird request to make at all and you're not crazy.

And I don't think most guys would talk about this stuff openly with their girlfriends (and rightly so), for fear of upsetting them.

I can't speak for most guys, but most guys I know don't talk about that stuff with their significant others because it's shitty behavior, not because they're restraining themselves from doing so. It's the difference between not drinking and driving because you (the general "you") know it's a stupid thing to do and why, and not doing it because you're afraid of getting caught: in the latter scenario, the shitty behavior is liable to surface somewhere else because you just never really grasped why what you're doing is inappropriate. Which, giving your boyfriend more benefit of the doubt than he may deserve, might be what's happening here.
posted by griphus at 11:33 AM on June 2 [29 favorites]


Have you sat him down -- not immediately after he does something that hurts you -- and said, "Honey, [thing] upsets me, and here's why..."? There are a lot of people out there who can accept correction in the moment without necessarily linking it to a large-scale Way They Are by (intentionally or un-) slicing each objection very thinly (e.g., "Oh, she doesn't like me checking out big-breasted women in public where it might embarrass her; got it" without making the link to ""Oh, she doesn't like me checking out other women").

If you do this and he doesn't get any better, or if he starts rules-lawyering your objections and just doesn't get it, then dump him. But talk to him first.
posted by Etrigan at 11:33 AM on June 2


Super-agree with griphus that the PUA mention makes me not give this guy the benefit of the doubt. When someone tells me he's read and enjoyed The Game and subscribes to any PUA product or school of thought (or, dear god, has paid money for a "seminar" or podcast), what they're also telling me is this:

- I don't respect women as individuals
- I see women as disposable
- I see sex as an accomplishment
- I am breathtakingly insecure and unsure how to act without an instruction manual

For the sake of your emotional health and future relationships, it would be a good idea to extract yourself from this four-month-old fling. This guy is absolutely 100% "keeping you on your toes" and manipulating you for his own gratification. You seem smart and reasonable and like you know yourself, and you can do better than with this dude.
posted by magdalemon at 11:42 AM on June 2 [33 favorites]


You say you love and value him. But you clearly do not feel loved and valued by him, and nothing you describe suggests that this is a relationship where you will ever feel those qualities.

Or, to put it another way: you are not crazy for wanting to be loved and valued by a partner the same way you love and value him, and you certainly can have those things in a relationship. You just won't have them in this relationship.
posted by scody at 11:49 AM on June 2 [11 favorites]


He's playing a sadistic psycho-sexual mindgame on you, and you should RUN.

I've got to do something or I would explain more right now.

Basically - YES - he's trampling all over your boundaries, his mental landscape is not that common, and he talks about sex in ways that devalues women, generally.

He's an asshole playing a game, and you should dump him immediately.

I'll be back later, but this is the gist.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 12:05 PM on June 2 [17 favorites]


Checking out & commenting on women is an immature thing that most guys grow out of.

P sounds pretty obsessed with his... uh... "p"

It's not making you feel good about yourself and you are starting to internalize this, and that really worries me.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:06 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


I'm as well a small Asian girl with insecurities dating a guy who had a knack for bringing up past dating history. In my case, I think it was more that he began seeing me as his best friend/buddy and would just talk without a filter, forgetting that it's Girlfriend listening and not just his buddy.

Not saying that this applies to you, but it could be one of the factors. I've had a talk with my guy about this and he understood my concerns and it hasn't been an issue since. The actions you described seem a little over the top though. It's good that he's apologetic, but if he doesn't "get it" then it'll just keep coming up. I think reading into the PUA crap is definitely a red flag, but that's up to you to decipher.

I'm all for sex positive and being open about fantasies and sexplorations, but I think the most important part of it all is communication and placing your partner first and foremost. My guy and I talk about our fantasies and what we want to eventually explore, but it always includes each other. Unless you're poly/open, then it's a different story. Most importantly, I think our fantasies/limit match each others and can grow together.

You are not in the wrong here. Your feelings are legitimate, but you might just need someone who's more compatible with you. It shouldn't be this stressful.
posted by monologish at 12:09 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Your relationships does NOT sound healthy.

Have you had these fantasies before? If not, is it because you feel like you'll finally "get" P or make him happy if you engaged in these things? Even if you have kinky fantasies--which many people do--it's possible to do them in perfectly healthy ways. The goal is to feel good about yourself and loved afterward, as you show yourself to be vulnerable and are accepted anyway. As it pertains to sex (and relationships in general): If it makes you feel bad/sad/depressed, you should not engage in it. Just because it feels good physically, doesn't mean it's actually healthy for you to engage in it (relationship or sex).

Yes, people in relationships will be attracted to other people, but it's possible to do so respectfully. He almost sounds "neggy" the way he's trying to "make it up to you." If you tell him these things make you uncomfortable, he should stop doing them in front of you. Or at least stop being obvious about it.

Besides, there are *so* many men who are into the slender, petite Asian look. (I'm an Asian woman, but I'm NOT slender.)

I would run from this relationship, before getting any more emotionally damaged. Take some time to reset and recharge.
posted by ethidda at 12:13 PM on June 2


Anything about sex is okay, unless someone is getting hurt. You're getting hurt, therefore, it's not okay.

1. Checking out other people. I love to people-watch and sometimes, you'll see something that makes you smack your significant other and say, "check that out." It is NEVER okay for someone you're with to ogle someone, let alone say something like, "I'd like to fuck her." If you want, you can reply, "out of what?" (Terrible joke, sorry.)

2. Dirty talk that you don't like. Some people are into it, I did phone sex for awhile, so it doesn't bug me, but if you feel debased, or dehumanized or somehow diminished by it, then it needs to stop. No if, ands or buts.

3. Describing his fantasies to you. If he doesn't stop it, after you've asked him to, he's a jerk.

4. As for YOUR fantasies, pretty typical stuff as far as it goes, don't feel bad about it, just embrace it as your own special quirk or kink. LOTS of us are wired to be submissive, you may have just tapped into it based upon being introduced to it, in the worst possible way, through your boyfriend. Again, nothing bad about the fantasy per se. And fantasizing doesn't mean that you actually want it to happen. In your fantasy, you're actually the one in control (and in BDSM play too, but that's a WHOLE OTHER askme.)

Sweetie, I'm thinking that while this guy might be okay, that he's not right for you. You shouldn't be tense and sad and questioning with your SO, and your SO shouldn't make you feel inadequate or insignificant or unheard.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:17 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


If he studied up on 'The Game' to overcome his own social fears and inexperience, I guess that's one thing (although a lot of us are incredibly socially awkward and never resorted to learning 'pick up techniques'). If he did it to learn how to manipulate women and get what he wants, that doesn't sound very promising for your future happiness.

If he is getting everything he wants, and you aren't getting what you want, that is a problem. No relationship is perfect, but you should listen to your feelings above all else, they are telling you something, try to figure out what it is. Please try to protect yourself as much as possible

Do you want a primarily sexual relationship with minimal strings attached? That is an ideal relationship for a lot of younger guys, and it kind of sounds like what he is after. Also, he doesn't have to be a 'bad person' to hurt you very deeply if you have different ideas and feelings about the relationship.
posted by ryanfou at 12:19 PM on June 2


This is icky. I honestly felt icky reading this. NOT because his views on sex are wrong or gross, but because he knows you're not like that and is pushing you. That's the gross part. His views are making you feel insecure and your views are 100% valid. You're not crazy.

As a data point, there are Definitely men they aren't like this and don't have those thoughts and don't make those comments. (Myself and my husband included. Hell, both of us don't like porn nor talk about wanting to screw other people.)
posted by Crystalinne at 12:21 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


This question makes me so uncomfortable because this is partially how my incredibly abusive relationship started. Like, I possibly could have written this question at your age. I know now that there are so many men in the world who aren't like this and won't make you feel this way. For what it's worth, I don't think you are paranoid, I think you should listen to your intuition here.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 12:24 PM on June 2 [17 favorites]


Neither of you are intrinsically wrong for behaving or thinking in the way you do - there are lots of relationships where people are open about their crushes/attraction to other people; watch porn together, etc...and there are lots of other relationships where people do not. Where he is going wrong is in not respecting your desire to maintain those boundaries.

THIS. This this this. The "all dudes want to bang everything that moves and have super-high sex drives and can't be happily monogamous" thing is a sexist myth. Some guys do have high sex drives and want multiple partners, some ladies have high sex drives and want multiple partners. This isn't a gender difference, it's a people difference. It's a mismatch in your sexual and relationship tastes.

There are tons of guys out there who are naturally monogamous. This guy is not that guy. He should be more considerate of your feelings, and it's hard to tell from here whether it's intentional or whether he just doesn't realize how much this is hurting you and just how mismatched your sexual fantasies and drives really are. I don't know; I hope it's the latter. If he's remotely a decent guy he won't want to hurt you, but he might not have internalized how much it's his very attraction to others, rather than specific physical comparisons or fear of losing him, that's bothering you. But it's always going to be a point of contention in your relationship if it's something he felt was important enough to bring up right out of the gate. Even if he was considerate enough to keep totally mum about sex, then sex would just become something you two can't talk about, and that sounds pretty crappy to me.

It sounds like you want and need strict monogamy, and I don't think that's something you should try to force yourself to change. There's a big, big difference between "this takes me a while to become comfortable with because society taught me it's wrong" and "this really isn't my cup of tea," and in either case you shouldn't make yourself do things that hurt and feel toxic to you. I know some extraordinarily happy, sex-positive, un-repressed couples who are also incredibly monogamous. I know some extraordinarily happy, sex-positive, un-repressed couples who don't have a jealous bone in their bodies, and would have been perfectly happy dating this dude. Strict monogamy isn't what this particular guy wants and needs, but it is what you want and need, and it's okay to put your foot down on what you need. A big difference in sexual styles is a perfectly legitimate reason to break up — even if this wasn't also doing a number on your self-esteem.
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:32 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


The Girls in Their Summer Dresses
Such a pretty title, such a sad story.
posted by LonnieK at 12:35 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]


This guy is building up your insecurities by constantly comparing you to other women, and you have caught yourself starting to internalise those hurtful remarks.
The way to self-esteem is to care for yourself as you would care for someone you love deeply. So get rid of him, he's not healthy for you, and go back to people and activities that make you feel more safe.
posted by Tobu at 12:54 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


Seconding jbenben.

Personally, your description of him kind of creeps me out. Honestly, my first instinct was that it sounds like he is some kind of sexual deviant. (I am, however, biased by unfortunate previous experience).

...wants to talk about sex a lot (he tries to 'sext' me most days, talks about past sexual partners, mentions that he finds certain girls attractive, and will, out of the blue and in non-sexual settings, describe his fantasies to me). I know that mental landscape is pretty normal for guys, but it just doesn't seem appropriate for him to communicate those things to me.

I would say sexting is in the realm of normal behavior (though he should stop it if you ask him to/aren't into it), but talking about sex with other women in any context is pretty out of line (especially if you have told him more than once how uncomfortable this makes you). It is really hurtful behavior, especially given what you've shared with him about your body image insecurities. And talking about sex a lot and the whole "out of the blue talking about sexual fantasies" - I have been on the receiving end of that kind of behavior and I will say that that part is not normal and your instinct of this being inappropriate is totally correct. (How do I know? The counselor I was seeing to deal with the trauma I endured from this relationship told me so.) From my experience, his behavior and the things he says to you are liable only to get sicker and more twisted and ugly. Please listen to your instinct.

You are not crazy or neurotic for being insecure. When a guy starts putting his personal sexual predilections above your sense of well-being, it is NOT a good sign. Think about what that says about his feelings for you - when he is doing all these things in TOTAL DISREGARD of your feelings. And all that PUA shit has likely just given him tips and support in preying on women. (Not to try to cajole you, but read some of that stuff and imagine that is the way that P. views you. I know it's hard to digest, but in all likelihood that is his mindset.) I think he is just using you and it sounds to me like he is preying on your insecurities in an attempt to manipulate you into going along with his sexual fantasies. It sounds sick because it is.

sometimes he'll say something that will send me tail-spinning into a very dark place. These feelings with P are all new to me as I'm usually very level-headed

I don't like to tell people what to do when giving advice. I respect whatever path the person is going to take and know that it is wholly their choice to make. But I will tell you that, based on my own experiences, that reading this, in my head, the alarm bells are going off and I am yelling to you "run run run!" Please keep in mind that emotional abuse and manipulation tactics are designed to make you feel precisely the way you are feeling.

I think it's really brave that you decided to get some second opinions on what is going on in your relationship, and from what you've wrote, you sound like an intelligent and resourceful person. If anything else comes up, please feel free to memail me if you like.
posted by sevenofspades at 12:54 PM on June 2 [14 favorites]


Try to get out of the "this is normal for most guys so I should be more accepting" headspace you seem to be in.

This is normal for SOME guys, but plenty of guys aren't like this at all, and not just because they're hiding their true feelings from their partners.

You don't need to be accepting about anything that makes you uncomfortable, particularly not in this new of a relationship.

In the long run, trying to force yourself to be okay with something that you aren't actually okay with isn't going to make for a happy or healthy relationship.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:58 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]


I'm gay so the dynamics are a bit different, but my girlfriend and I openly talk about other people we find attractive in front of the other.

The differences between our situation and yours are a) we have both confirmed we are okay and not hurt by this, b) we both make it clear that we are very attracted to each other, both during sexytimes and out of the bedroom, and c) neither of us would ever, EVER imply that we wish we were sleeping with somebody else during sex. None of these differences bode well, but the last one is particularly fucked up, he should be sleeping with you because he wants YOU, not because there's nobody better around.

My read here is that his views have been poisoned by PUA material and he views women as rewards rather than people. You seem to feel like a number on some sort of weird hotness scale being compared unfavorably to other women, because, well, that's how PUA bullshit teaches men to view women. You're feeling insecure because he appears to be openly saying that he finds other women more attractive than you and he wishes he were sleeping with them. You should read some PUA stuff and see if it matches how he behaves toward you.

The fact that it is causing so much shame and anguish in you makes me think this is DTMFA territory. I'm particularly worried that if you don't leave, some of these weird feelings of shame and inadequacy you are experiencing are going to become increasingly ingrained in you, which is going to result in years and years of therapy trying to untangle later.
posted by zug at 1:01 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


This question makes me so uncomfortable because this is partially how my incredibly abusive relationship started.

Yup, me too. This must be hard for you to deal with, since you care for him so much but feel crappy about such a major, intimate part of your interactions. I agree that you sound resourceful and intelligent.

FWIW even if he's not doing it on purpose, it seems to be having really serious negative effects. That's relevant and important regardless of his motivations.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:04 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


I should add that there's nothing wrong with a high sex drive in itself, but I do agree with some of the other commenters who've said that you may be also dealing with some misogyny and (at best) inconsiderate behavior in this case. Whether he's being abusive and trying to hurt you is an entirely separate issue from "our approach to sex is different," and if even a few of the serious warnings on here ring true then you should get the hell out ASAP.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:12 PM on June 2


You seem to answer your own question when you note that most guys wouldn't do this to their girlfriends (and you are right about that), and the guys you've dated in the past haven't done this to you. You can do way better, and you know it.

I think you should leave ASAP before this relationship does any more damage to your self-esteem. Here's your script: "Paul, I've enjoyed our time together, but I've come to realize that we're not sexually or emotionally compatible. I think it's time we break up so that we can each find partners who are better matches. Best of luck and goodbye."
posted by Asparagus at 1:15 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Overall P is a great boyfriend - he's very loving and affectionate and committed and I have no reason to believe that he would cheat on me.

He's a pretty strange guy, and quite different to all the other guys I've dated previously. I guess you'd say he's not my usual 'type', but I love him and value our relationship.

He also knows that I go through episodes of depression and have previously struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

I get that I need to work on my self-esteem, but am I right in thinking that he is in the wrong here?


I have been struggling with what I think/feel about your question. I feel maybe there is something important missing from it. I wonder if you are with him precisely because he is not your usual type and you have a history of personal problems that you are trying to leave behind and that is part of why you are confused and unsure where to draw the boundary here.


I feel like I'm starting to become fixated on it. I have amazing orgasms but I feel awful afterwards; I get this real visceral experience of jealousy and inadequacy, like there's something festering away inside me.

For me, this piece is really icky to read. I spent a lot of years feeling awful after orgasm, sometimes leaving the bedroom and crying by myself elsewhere so as to not burden my husband because it wasn't really his fault, it had a lot to do with abuse experienced before I met him. And I am very concerned that after a mere four months, this is where you are with this new relationship and are asking advice about "how to handle sexual jealousy" instead of dumping him and asking us how to cope with the aftermath of this icky relationship. And I still feel like there is more to the story and I just don't understand what your motivation is for putting up with something that makes you feel so icky afterwards.

During my divorce, I spent considerable time talking with men who were not my usual type and I spent time with men I would normally not give the time of day to. And some of those men were "not nice" men. One was someone you could justifiably call a Player. And these men were very helpful for me in getting over some things that therapy and marriage had failed to fix and I am mostly glad I went through those experiences, even though it has left me with a few new issues. But, overall, it left me much less messed up.

But I was late thirties/early forties and had a long marriage behind me and lots of therapy and what not. And also these relationships were mostly online and by phone, not in person. So I had a lot of control over the situation and did things like simply dumped one guy the minute he started talking about getting plane tickets to come see me. And you don't have all those experiences and controls in place.

So I am kind of feeling like maybe your reason for putting up with this comes from some kind of healthy impetus of wanting to break free of something that is not working for you but I am concerned that this is not a safe path forward for you. However, I am not clear on exactly what you are trying to get free from so I don't really know what to suggest here, in part because I stayed in my marriage a long time in order to figure out what was wrong with ME so the next relationship would not be a case of "new face, same old crapola." So I am kind of feeling like suggesting you DTMFA is not the best thing to say here because if I am right and you are putting up with something icky in order to try to deal with some deep personal issue, then the next guy may just be an even bigger problem.

But I am very concerned that this is not safe and healthy and is not a good path forward for whatever it is you are really trying to do, on some level. And I hope that the answers here will help you sort out what you want from it and what might be a better way to get that.
posted by Michele in California at 1:16 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


There are kinks/fetishes for everything you've described. While they may be outside the 'mainstream normal', there is nothing inherently wrong, dirty or bad about them. However, people being people, these are often very hard kinks/fetishes to do well, where nobody gets hurt.

However, the situation you described, especially the element of un-fun masochism with a history of self harm, is really worrysome. Be very very careful. Trust yourself, and while its ok to have 'un-normal' desires.... there are safe ways to engage in them.
posted by Jacen at 1:20 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


I think it's possible that this guy is just crass and insensitive, rather than deliberately playing head games with you.

It does sound like a somewhat hazardous relationship given the I'm-turned-on/I'm-degraded stuff in your own head combined with him wanting to take things further in that direction.

Lots of advice for you to run away. That may be good advice, my guess is this relationship does not have a long term future, but here's my advice if you decide to keep trying:

1) Stop fantasizing about stuff that makes you feel icky afterward. Some people enjoy pushing these boundaries, but I think most people are better off leaving those parts of their sexuality alone. If you can't stop fantasizing about him in ways that make you feel sick afterward, you need to break up.

2) Tell him, directly and clearly, that you want him to stop telling you about other women he thinks are attractive, and/or his fantasies about other women. Whatever he might be thinking, he can keep it to himself. If he ignores this, that's bad, and you ought to break up. I think it's possible he just does not understand where the boundaries of upsetting you are, especially if sometimes you tolerate this kind of talk without telling him it upsets you. This needs to be A Talk where it is very clear what you mean and that you are serious.

3) Do not tell him that you get/got especially turned on thinking about him fucking other women. Normally, I think you tell your partner just about everything, but this is a strong exception in the other direction. Your instincts to not tell him are correct here.

4) Do not DO anything that upsets you. Don't watch porn with him any more, don't go to a strip club, for god's sake don't get drunk with him and some other girl that he thinks you two would get along great together. Keep your boundaries tight.

Really, after typing all the above, this doesn't sound like a very good relationship, and I find myself leaning toward "just end it". You say you love him, and I am willing to believe he has a lot of good points. But you're going to have to get the relationship back on some kind of ground where you do not feel like you're sliding (or getting pushed) into "a dark place". You cannot stay with this guy unless you can get off the slippery slope.
posted by mattu at 1:51 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


It's OK that this is what gets him going, and that these are his sexual preferences.
It's OK that this makes you upset, and that these are not your sexual preferences.
It's not OK if he continues this, knowing it upsets you.
It's not OK if you go along with him, without being very clear that this is NOT who you are.

If you two want to stay together, you must find common ground WITHOUT bitterness or resentment.

If you two have very different sexual preferences, and cannot reconcile them, then it is perfectly okay for you two to have a mature and amicable breakup.
posted by jjmoney at 1:56 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


This was uncomfortable to read because as I was reading I sensed you developing a warped view of men that you may carry with you forever based on this one insensitive jerk. I think I have similar views as you, I am very monogamous and don't often feel attraction for others I mean I find people *attractive* but I never feel *lust* I found a great guy who is pretty much the same as me but I still sometimes get triggered into "no man will be happy with one woman, my value is going down as I age, blah blah blah." This was not helped by being with someone very much like your boyfriend in my previous relationship. Do NOT let this man give you baggage that will damage future relationships. Find someone that makes you feel positive about men and people in general.
posted by Skadi at 2:59 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


He is enjoying the sensation that the boundaries are his to push over. When he's sexting you or suddenly announcing his fantasies he's depositing his private stuff onto your shared space. Not in a good way; in a this-is-mine way.

He's right; it's working. His disregard for you is now in your most private space imaginable.

Get away from this guy. Let some other woman be his plaything.
posted by argybarg at 3:30 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


It was incredibly painful to read your post - especially that first paragraph. It brought back a lot of really awful memories of my last relationship and it made me incredibly sad for you because I see so many elements of it in yours (I'm happy to share privately if it helps; mefi mail).

My ex could've been your current bf. And it didn't get any better. I don't want to give you a knee-jerk "DTMFA", but after only 4 months, this guy has you regularly feeling insecure, neurotic, jealous, like a toy/play-thing and inadequate. After only 4 months. That's incredibly telling.

I'd seriously reconsider whether this is someone you want in your life.
posted by stubbehtail at 3:52 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]


This would be an immediate, no second chances, DTMFA situation for me. You deserve to be treated with respect.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:06 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


sweetshine: "What's even more unsettling is that I've started taking on this hurt as sexual fantasy. When we're having sex, or when I'm masturbating, I fantasise about him fucking other women and debasing me by making me watch or making me participate against my will. Whenever I want to orgasm, that's what I fantasise about. I feel like I'm starting to become fixated on it. I have amazing orgasms but I feel awful afterwards; I get this real visceral experience of jealousy and inadequacy, like there's something festering away inside me. It makes me feel so alone; I don't want to tell him about these fantasies because I can't stomach the idea of him fantasising about these things too (even though he might already...though maybe not to the extreme that I do, and maybe without the sadomasochistic bent). "

This is upsetting to hear. Not just because you feel bad but it's just so awfully common as a response to someone who is a pisspoor lover when you have your own inadequacy issues.

If, in bed with this guy, you have to fantasise about this to reach orgasm, you're not really connecting with him. That's a bad sign and that often comes from feeling bad in other areas of the relationship. Such as godawful entitlement issues. He's not nearly as loving and affectionate as you claim, if he is doing all of these things to you, and if in response you're blaming yourself and fantasising about being hurt.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:46 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


P seems very preoccupied with sex in general - he has a high sex drive and wants to talk about sex a lot... I know that mental landscape is pretty normal for guys

Honestly, all those things you describe are not necessarily pretty normal for guys - as I guy I promise you this! I am not like this, most of my male friends are not like this. This is another side of a chauvinist society that puts male sexuality into such a rigid definition, but truly it's not the case, and I hate that so many young girls think it.

Further, even if it is "pretty normal" - it is not normal, or good, for you. There are tonnes of guys who won't do this stuff, just tonnes - do not be fooled that you can't date one, and be happy with him,

He also knows that I go through episodes of depression and have previously struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

Okay, for me, this is where it crosses over into some fucked up shit right here. Those kind of things are absolutely not okay to do around someone with a history of self-identity/esteem issues. He may be too much of a clueless dickhead to notice or care, but OP you are not. This relationship is not good for you. You know it. That's why you posted this question. Move on now, when it's only been four months - instead of doing it after four years when you'll be really fucked up.

Trust yourself. Your expectations and desires about sex and sexual partners are not unreasonable, uncommon, or unrealistic. You can, and should, find a healthier relationship. Best of luck to you, OP.
posted by smoke at 6:04 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


I have a few things to say regarding your situation:

In my opinion, if you have some insecurities about your body, or just about anything, you (and all of us) need to be content with what we have right now. The reason is simple: No matter where we are in life, or what we have or we don't, the odds are that we're always going to want more. And no matter if you get the perfect curves, or if you don't. There's always going to be something you feel you're missing, and that could be harmful because you're being blinded by the things you want, and can't see all the good things you have right now. And believe me, that applies to everything! I don't even need to see pictures of you, but you think there aren't girls who would like to be as slim as you are? There are, and PLENTY! And you know it's true :)

And this is just one example!

I'm going kind of off topic here, but one last thing I want to mention regarding that: If there is something you want to change about yourself, take small steps towards where you want to be! And as I mentioned, you'll always want something new, but tomorrow, you'll be different than how you were today, and that's reason enough to celebrate and be content, don't you think? Learn to enjoy the process, and you'll have more reasons to smile in life :)

Anyway. The reason I mention all this is because your boyfriend should be encouraging and increasing your self confidence. Or that's how I think at least. If there is anything that he's doing, that causes you to lose your self confidence, at least try to talk to him about it, which you have, but if he doesn't change all that much and that's affecting you negatively... Would you really want to be with that kind of person for the long term?

That's just my opinion though. Think about this, and at the end of the day, you need to do what's best for you. And if this is not getting the best out of you, or if you in any way feel that it's doing harm to you, you should think twice if you want to continue with the relationship.

Best of luck!
posted by AbePlaysGuitar at 8:09 PM on June 2


I know that mental landscape is pretty normal for guys

I had this internalized when I was younger too. It lead to some pretty weird situations, like thinking all guys don't view sex as related to love, then sleeping with someone who totally did and had bought into the belief that all women do. That was... very awkward. Also bringing up threesomes, cause hey all guys like threesomes, and getting this look of total panic and then the subject is changed and never brought back up. Realizing how absolutely terrified a lot of men are about being disappointing in bed. The guy who didn't really watch any porn, and I have no reason to think he was lying as I watch and own porn. I mean, it's possible he didn't want to admit it for three years, but he certainly wasn't all braying how men are visual just deal with it. Looking through another boyfriend's porn collection (with permission) and finding only images of happy, healthy, sexy and strong ladies. Nothing even close to degrading.

Meeting and dating men who had no part in the fucked up stereotypes allowed me to change my world-view and now I would never put up with someone who acted in that manner. I am really really sorry one of the first men you have a serious relationship is like this. Please don't let it make you think all men are.
posted by Dynex at 8:24 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Thanks everyone for all the support/advice. I spent a sleepless night last night reading and considering all your responses.

I probably should add a few things:

About eight months ago I ended a four year relationship. We were serious (living together) and we were at the stage where we were contemplating marriage and buying a house together. F was an amazing boyfriend - I felt totally secure with him, and I probably would have married him if we were older. I just wasn't ready, and I wasn't sure if he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It wasn't fair to stay with him at that point as I became very anxious and distant. I still feel guilty about leaving F from time to time, but I have no regrets.

I told P that F and I had a different relationship dynamic (P was inquiring, so I answered). F was more 'passive' and I 'wore the pants' in the relationship most of the time (that's a huge over-simplification, but you get what I mean). So I think P may have internalised that he needs to be more 'alpha' because I'd just broken up with this 'beta' guy. This is a grossly selective misunderstanding of course, and I've told P that, and reassured him that he doesn't need to try to be 'alpha' with me because all that shit is just ludicrous.

Given the above, I also revealed that I'm into being sexually dominated, and we've been exploring that together. While it feels totally safe and fine, and he always respects my boundaries in the bedroom, I think he feels like he needs to be dominant in aspects of the relationship outside the bedroom. I've told him that I just want him to be real and not feel like he has to play this 'role' with me all the time.

I highly doubt that P is 'playing' me because he suffers from social anxiety and doesn't have a lot of friends. I think all of his derps have been due to inexperience/insensitivity. He's told me that he's upset past girlfriends by saying stuff that was interpreted a certain way. He also told me it took him a while for him to learn how to talk to girls and that he used to be a bit of a social outcast. I think most of his knowledge of PUA is from friends who were trying to get him laid back in the day.

P is extremely jealous (probably should have mentioned this from the beginning - funny how I only captured one side of the coin here). He hates it when I spend time with male friends and basically makes no effort to be friendly with them when we're out in a group. If we're at a party and I'm talking to a guy (even if that guy is an old friend, or someone he knows I've previously rejected), he'll walk past and kiss me on the cheek or put his hand on me, as if he's 'laying claim'. He once asked me to take down all the pictures on my Facebook of me with ex-boyfriends (I refused) and we had a huge fight over that. I was very close to breaking up with him at that point.

P obviously has shit that he needs to deal with. One of the conditions of us staying together was that he started seeing a psych. He's been a lot better with his jealousy and we haven't had any more fights over it.

After laying this out it, it all sounds so absurd. Have I just been caught up in the newness and excitement of the relationship?
posted by sweetshine at 8:28 PM on June 2


Have I just been caught up in the newness and excitement of the relationship?

Wee-elll, let me put it this way. I'm in my early thirties, and none of my girl friends - even the ones that are actively really looking hard for boyfriends - would go out with someone like this. For a second.

People tend to put up with a lotta sub-par shit when they are younger and don't know any better is what I'm saying. And also, people can be nice, but not right for what you need in a relationship. You're not obligated to go out with people.
posted by smoke at 8:42 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


P is extremely jealous. He hates it when I spend time with male friends and basically makes no effort to be friendly with them when we're out in a group. If we're at a party and I'm talking to a guy (even if that guy is an old friend, or someone he knows I've previously rejected), he'll walk past and kiss me on the cheek or put his hand on me, as if he's 'laying claim'. He once asked me to take down all the pictures on my Facebook of me with ex-boyfriends (I refused) and we had a huge fight over that.

This is a classic red flag for an abusive relationship. The rest of the answers above point to the other red flags. Get out. There is nothing safe and fine about this man.
posted by Capri at 8:51 PM on June 2 [16 favorites]


Oh god. This guy is fucked six ways from Sunday. "Socially anxious and inexperienced" do not all jerkery auto-justify, and this is jerkery pretty beyond the pale that you've just described. I don't mean this to insult YOU at all, I've dated plenty of similar, just... All the people here telling you to run like hell? We're you, five-ten-twenty years out. Just remember that.
posted by celtalitha at 9:01 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


I was willing to give this dude the benefit of the doubt as someone who is just really not compatible with you.

I take it back. Run! This guy is the worst! DTMFA!
posted by Sara C. at 9:07 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


So I think P may have internalised that he needs to be more 'alpha' because I'd just broken up with this 'beta' guy.

While it feels totally safe and fine, and he always respects my boundaries in the bedroom, I think he feels like he needs to be dominant in aspects of the relationship outside the bedroom...

I think most of his knowledge of PUA is from friends who were trying to get him laid back in the day.


You are coming up with excuses and explanations for his behavior. In your update, you say you both talked about these things and make it sound like you came to an acceptable resolution over the issues, but, as you know, people don't need to make excuses for something they are happy with. If he treated you with respect and was a kind person you wouldn't be here saying "well, he had a happy childhood so I think that's why he's good to me...."

This excuse-making is a total waste of your time and energy and it sounds like you know this too. Relationships like this are like a slot machine -- you think you have it all worked out and you try to push the right buttons in just the right way, patiently waiting, thinking if you do that the machine will magically churn out a jackpot of real love and affection and respect, just like you once experienced when you first started playing the game. But it never happens. Just like at the casino, the house always wins in the end.

You have only been together four months. You acknowledge yourself that he has some issues he needs to sort out. He has probably only curbed the "jealousy" in order to make you feel safe and he will start controlling you again once he sees that you decided to trust him. I suggest this book as a primer on abusive and controlling men. It was very illuminating to me.
posted by sevenofspades at 9:20 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


When I wrote out my response above, I wrote "I don't mean to be hyperbolic, but..." and then I said that were I in your situation, I would leave. Well, now I'm going to get very detailed and it's going to sound pretty hyperbolic, I'm afraid, even though in my view it is not.

I deleted and re-typed and deleted and re-typed what was really in the place of "I would turn right around and leave" several times before I went with what I said. What I really wrote initially was that I did not want to be hyperbolic, but that your description was very familiar to something that happened in my abusive relationship. I was with a man for three years who treated me like a sadistic child would treat his least favorite doll. He was occasionally nice, but more often than not he was doing something incredibly cruel to me, whether it was smashing expensive electronics because I was going out with a friend for coffee instead of spending time with him, to calling me other girls's names during sex and then being angry with me for acting "jealous" about it, to comparing me to morbidly obese women when we were out together and telling me I looked like them (I weighed 88 pounds when he did this because he also screamed at me every time I ate anything that wasn't on his approved "diet"), to... I don't want to keep remembering awful stuff he did anymore, sorry. And for me, it started with the other women. At least, that was when I recognized that something was really not working for me, that he was doing really weird stuff that was hurting my feelings and I didn't feel good. We tried to talk about it but he ignored how I felt and made me feel awful about being so "jealous."

It was so bad when I left that I was diagnosed with PTSD and had to go to therapy four times a week to get to some semblance of normal. I still have so many issues that I haven't even scratched the surface of them in therapy, and I left him two years ago. For example, the way I feel about other women now, which I outlined above? Haven't even had a chance to mention that in therapy, let alone start to work on it at all. That relationship messed me up.

Your update is only making me draw more parallels to my own experience, ones that are making me unhappy and uncomfortable and concerned for you.

I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that the way you've described him in your update is textbook. You may want to just take a peek at the book Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft, or The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans, to see if there are even more parallels. For example, the jealousy of friends and exes has been mentioned above. I also think that the interest in your relationship dynamic specifically with your ex is interesting - mine was very, very curious about that as well. He was learning about how I ticked when I talked to him about my ex (who was also very kind like yours, and I had a lot of guilt about leaving him, largely because we had been together for 8 years). I learned this after he used a lot of what I said as either justification for the way he behaved (notice any parallels there with your "he thinks he needs to be alpha because my ex was beta"?) or when he threw it back in my face years later, just to make me feel bad and to make me feel guilty about my past. It's also a red flag that all of his exes have been upset because of the way they've interpreted things he's said. He's taking absolutely no responsibility there - notice how all of his exes were incorrect, and it's not his fault at all that they felt bad? Not having friends of his own is a third red flag. That's telling, that people don't really want to be close to him. I can go on but I won't. Check out those books and consider what people are saying here.

It's not too late for you to just walk away from this mess of a person without sustaining much damage. Don't do what I did. I realized he was going to hurt the living hell out of me about four months in, too, but I just took root and planted there and acted like his punching bag - mostly literally, but unfortunately not always - for two and a half more years. Don't do what I did.
posted by sockermom at 9:33 PM on June 2 [13 favorites]


- So I think P may have internalised that he needs to be more 'alpha' because I'd just broken up with this 'beta' guy.
- I think he feels like he needs to be dominant in aspects of the relationship outside the bedroom.
- I think all of his derps have been due to inexperience/insensitivity.


Okay, seriously, he is not doing ANYTHING because of something you said or did. Honest to god. He is acting this way and treating you in this manner because that is who he is and that is how he treats the women he dates.

He even told you as much:

He's told me that he's upset past girlfriends by saying stuff that was interpreted a certain way.

You've got it set in your mind that he's doing things in reaction to what you've done. That makes you responsible for how he treats you. You are not responsible for his actions!! You didn't do this! Nothing you've said or done has caused him to try to act dominant in social settings or say cruel things. He's doing those things because he is a man who treats his girlfriends in a poor manner. That is 100% not your fault or your responsibility.

Please please please don't keep believing what you say or do leads to him treating you badly.

P is extremely jealous

This guy is sending up so many red flags planes are going to start flying into each other on the runway.
posted by Dynex at 10:13 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


P obviously has shit that he needs to deal with. One of the conditions of us staying together was that he started seeing a psych. He's been a lot better with his jealousy and we haven't had any more fights over it.

You've only been dating this guy for four months. You're not trying to bring this relationship back into a happy and healthy place, you're trying to transform it into something it never was.
posted by Dynex at 10:16 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Wow, I was totally willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe he just approaches sex and exclusivity differently than you do, but he's jealous? HE is?! Get out get out get out get out
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:18 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


OP, just to be clear: it wasn't a lack of information (i.e., before you posted your update) that was causing people to tell you to leave this relationship. There is nothing that you added -- nor is there anything you could ever add -- that will make it OK that you feel devalued and degraded in this relationship.

Wanting to explore being dominated sexually is not the same thing as being abused, which is what he is doing to you. This is a profoundly unhealthy and potentially very dangerous relationship.

Again: there is nothing you can say (whether to us or to yourself) that makes his treatment of you OK, nor is there anything you can say to him to make him treat you with love and respect. This is not because of some failure on your part, but on his.

I know it may seem difficult to leave him when you feel so strongly for him, and when you struggle with your self-esteem like you do. But I am positive you have accomplished difficult things before. Think of some of those times, think about the resources and the qualities you possess that you drew on to get through those challenges, and call on them now. There is a train heading down the tracks straight at you. Please get off the tracks.
posted by scody at 10:22 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


You've been together under a year and a condition of continuing is he start seeing a psych?

He's extremely jealous?

You've had major arguments and spent yet another sleepless night making excuses for him and trying to figure him out?


GIRL, RUN RUN RUN.

Yes, indeed. I was you 15 years ago.

RUN!!
posted by jbenben at 11:42 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


After laying this out it, it all sounds so absurd. Have I just been caught up in the newness and excitement of the relationship?

Probably. Here's an idea. How about you find a guy you don't have to train? You can do that. You've earned the right.

Just because a guy is 'okay' it doesn't mean that you have to put up with this much nonsense. Sure, he may mature, learn things and eventually become datable, but he's nowhere near that now. In fact, this man is 100% NOT DATABLE as it stands.

Jealousy, head swiveling, inappropriate, etc. Just too much to deal with there.

So, kindly tell him that while you think he's a nice guy with potential, that right now, it's not right for you.

The right relationship will require nearly no work. The right relationship is when you're annoyed that he leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor, not that he's constanting checking out other women that it feels disrespectful to you and to them.

Here's a thought, how about you break up with him, and check out some of the 'scene' and see if you can do some fun stuff with your new-found understanding of your sexuality. That could be fun, right?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:10 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope.

That double standard of "i'll talk about every woman under the sun but you had better cut every single man out of your entire life or I will be a big stompy tantrumy toddler" is NEVER anything but fuckery, bullshit, and drag.

This man you're seeing is basically made of fuckery, bullshit, and drag. As Sara C said above, he is the worst guy. The absolute worst.

I don't care who put it there, I don't care how well-meaning they were, it is not your problem and he should not be dating humans. Any humans. No humans deserve to put up with fuckery, bullshit, and drag.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:05 AM on June 3 [11 favorites]


Your update has done nothing but send up more blaring red flags that all point to a incipient abusive relationship.

1. He is extremely jealous. How long until you start avoiding male friends just so you don't have to go through another one of his jealous freakouts?

2. He says mean things to you that make you feel bad about yourself. You talk about it and he apologizes, but has he stopped? No, from everything you said it's gotten worse.

3. He belittles you and makes you feel like you are being compared unfavorably to other women. You feel so shitty about all of this you feel ashamed and inadequate after sex or masturbating (!!!).

4. You find yourself trying to cover for and minimize his poor behavior. Your update is FULL of "well he's just acting poorly because of X" excuses. No, he's acting the way he is because that's how he WANTS to act. If he wanted to behave differently, he would.


All of this in a 4 month relationship? Unless you want to be another statistic, get out. My advice was DTFMA before your update. Now my advice is DTMFA immediately, cut off all contact, and get into therapy.
posted by zug at 12:48 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I don't believe in any kind of predestiny or that any particular personal trait is inherently good or bad. I don't believe that a relationship is guaranteed to be good or guaranteed to be bad. I don't believe that you simply put person A with person B and the result is "guaranteed abuse." I am sorry you are getting a lot of heavy messages that this relationship is doomed and you should just run instead of answering your stated question. I can easily see that one reason you could be getting defensive is not because P is so terrible but because people here have been so very critical.

So I am going to back up and answer you original question: How to deal with sexual jealousy in a relationship?

In my experience, jealousy is not so much about him looking at other girls or you having pics of other guys in your Facebook. It is about what each of you is not getting from each other.

It takes something like 15 to 20 hours per week to build and sustain an intimate relationship. Are you two spending that much time together? When you are together, is it quality time (meaningful conversation, sexual intimacy, etc) or are you just running errands and watching tv next to each other? If you are not spending at least 15 hours together of quality time to build a relationship, neither of you has any hope of being secure. So do the math and see if this is an issue. If you need to spend more time together or work on that being better quality time, do that before you draw any big conclusions about one or both of you being terrible people or decide whether or not to leave the relationship. If you simply aren't getting enough facetime, that alone can foster reasonable insecurities and insecurity is a good root of jealousy.

If you are getting enough facetime and it is also mostly quality time, then you need to both work on communicating better, being more reassuring, considerate, caring, sensitive to each other's issues, etc. I got married at age 19 to another 19 year old. Due to being abused as a kid, I was insanely jealous when I was younger. He was mostly supportive, understanding, reassuring, etc about my triggers and over time I got better. A good antidote to insane jealous is a caring, loving, stable, committed relationship that meets your needs pretty well in most regards. So you can both try to be that for each other and see if that gets better.

You are experimenting with BDSM stuff for, I guess, the first time. I will suggest that the female submission/male domination thing, both in bed and out, is a really common meme for what appears to be the human race and it can be tough to figure out where to draw those lines. When I left my very traditional marriage, I decided I would rather have a BDSM relationship than ever again be treated like a second class citizen -- that I would rather that be a game in the bedroom than an unhealthy basic power struggle in the relationship. I talked for a bit to a guy in the BDSM scene and concluded it is not my cup of tea. But if I were into BDSM, I would be a submissive yet, for whatever unfathomable reason, some people react to me like I am some kind of dragonlady and some men respond to that impression with, basically, "oh whip me honey". And I know that absolutely does not work for me.

So I will say I am still trying to figure out such questions for myself and I think it isn't necessarily an easy question to answer. And I am saying that not to give you an answer for your issue here, because I don't have one, but to say it is okay for you to also not yet know the answer. That it totally okay. You just need to be willing to say, as you appear to be, "Uh, no, alpha male running my life is not what I was asking for. Let's keep the dominance stuff in the bedroom and let me be a big girl who makes my own decisions outside of play time. K? thx." And with practice, this can get better. I have gotten better at figuring what the heck it is I am needing from a man that once made me think "maybe BDSM is in the answer for me" when, um, no that turned out to not be the answer for me personally.

Last, I will say that it sounds to me kind of like you a) had some dark places before you met him -- he didn't create that all on his lonesome and b) it looks like one thing you are looking for here is to opened up a bit in some sense and maybe one of the things you wanted opened up are old festering wounds that could benefit from exposure to oxygen. And that can be a healthy impetus but it can also be a tricky thing to pull off. Since you are finding yourself going to a very dark place at times while feeling that he is not simply an abusive person, I strongly suggest you start a journal. You need to spend some time sorting out which of those bad feelings are things you brought into the relationship that he is simply bringing out into the light of day and which of those are really and truly you react badly to his behaviors. If you can effectively do that, that is your best hope for sorting out which behaviors of his are bad behaviors that need to stop and which are "bad boy" behaviors that you find hot and, in some important way, are a breath of fresh air and life giving in what sounds like a somewhat repressed life.

I mean that it sounds to me like possibly your life has been repressed and part of why you find these fantasies so very hot while also icky is because you have a lot of negative messages running around in your head about sex is simply bad. I think this is part of why "bad boys" are so commonly seen as hot: If sex is bad, then sexy men are all "bad" and then "bad" men are sexy, basically (in a really short oversimplification). I spent some time in the company of "bad boys" during my divorce and it was very freeing and healing. I don't want to live a swingers lifestyle or that type of thing but I think one of the things you see is that sometimes people take a walk on the wild side and get horribly burned and they then tell other people "the wild side is evil -- don't ever, ever go there." But not everyone gets burned. It isn't inherently evil. You do need to take some reasonable precautions and maybe that is where you aren't dealing so well and could stand to firm things up a bit.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 2:10 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


I don't believe that you simply put person A with person B and the result is "guaranteed abuse."

No, it's actually: put person A, who is an abuser, with anybody and the result is abuse. Abusers are abusive. The treatment and recidivism rates show as much. It's not that they are bad people, but they are broken people, fundamentally broken. Often, abusers - the ones who are willing to see therapists, anyhow - have been diagnosed with severe personality disorders. They treat their romantic partners poorly no matter who their partners are.

I love my abuser even still. I don't think he's a bad person; I think he has a mental illness. I feel sorry for him. He will never experience a loving relationship that isn't totally dysfunctional unless he gets help (he won't). It's tragic at best.

In this situation the best answer for dealing with jealousy in this specific relationship is to leave. The other answer is to swallow your feelings of jealousy and just do your best to force them out of yourself. With this kind of person there is no other option.
posted by sockermom at 2:38 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


For those of you still following: I broke up with P tonight.

I tried to have a dialogue with him about the relationship, and he was just so defensive and sulky about everything.

Even after revealing how hurt I was by his actions, all he could do was make it about him and talk about how shitty I was making him feel and how I was blaming him for my own issues (I tried to be as non-accusatory as possible but I'm not sure how well that came across). He didn't really show any genuine concern for me, even after telling him that I'd spent days without sleeping or eating because of how anxious I felt.

He had the demeanor of a child who'd been made to apologise to someone for something they weren't actually sorry about - he said he'd just stop saying those kind of things if it upset me that much. He said "I would do that for you", as if it were some sort of heroic feat. As some of you correctly assessed, he was only upset because he felt he was being attacked, not because he discovered that someone he claims to love very deeply was hurting in a very real way.

He tried to defend himself by saying that on some of those occasions where he made insensitive remarks, he was 'sexually frustrated' because I didn't go home with him, and that's why his mind was on sex, and that's why he'd made those remarks about desiring other women. I lost it at that point. I started trying to breakdown all the fucked up, misogynistic assumptions contained in that train of thought right there, but I decided it wasn't worth my time. I didn't think he could do much worse, but then he went on to say "I guess we can just have phone sex on the nights you don't come home with me".

Wow. Bravo, P.

Good fucking riddance.

(Thank you everyone for knocking some sense into me).
posted by sweetshine at 8:04 AM on June 4 [36 favorites]


GOOD for you - your update makes me want to jump up, run around the room, and high five everyone within high fiving distance.

Virtual high five!
posted by DingoMutt at 8:09 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


Thank you for your update. This dude so didn't deserve you, and I'm so happy you're moving on.

(bakes you a giant cake with sloppy frosting flowers and blazing candles and forty different kinds of your favorite candy stuck into the buttercream)
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:20 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


sweetshine, I am so happy to read your update! Not only because you broke up with P -- though I join DingoMutt in high-fiving everyone around me on that score (note: my dogs are a little confused) -- but also because your update shows such clarity and strength and self-respect, which are all great qualities that will serve you well as you move forward.

You rock. I hope it doesn't sound condescending to say that I'm proud of you, because woman, I am proud of you.
posted by scody at 8:28 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Yeah, seriously, I'm proud of you too. Breakups suck, so take care of yourself. I know that you will - the way you handled yourself during the breakup shows what a good head you have on your shoulders. I wish you had been around to give me advice five years ago.

Have some ice cream and enjoy your freedom. You're awesome.
posted by sockermom at 9:20 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Ohmygod, I am simultaneously dismayed by your update because this guy is slimier than I could have imagined (and I was one of the people telling you to leave after your OP), while also so happy that you told him to go f*@k himself.

I'm sorry that you had to cross paths with this dude, but glad for you that he's out of your life now.

A word of caution, though: over the coming weeks or maybe even months, you probably will find yourself missing him at times, even though you know he's a total creep. That's just the way breakups go in my experience, even when it's 100% unambiguously the right decision. Just know that this happens with every breakup, and don't misinterpret it for meaning that you made a mistake or anything. You 100% made the right decision.
posted by Asparagus at 9:43 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Another virtual high-five! Thanks for the update and I hope that you have a great summer with this guy squarely in the rearview mirror. Onward to awesome, healthy, happy things!
posted by quince at 1:03 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Phew. I was pretty worried about you getting trapped with P, especially after your update. I'm so relieved that you stood up for yourself.

Yet another high five. Good on you.
posted by zug at 5:07 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Yahoo, congratulations! So glad that you have resolved this so quickly!

P actually sounds like a socially awkward guy who I briefly dated, who used all sorts of PUA techniques (which I only realized after I armed myself with "The Game" as a form of mental self-defense), and I quickly dropped him when it looked like it was heading down abuseville after only 4 dates.

So social awkwardness does not preclude people from being PUA assholes, it actually could be a prerequisite. (Do not let your guard down when it comes to shy geeks, for they may be complete entitled abusive misogynists inside!)

Don't worry, you're not alone. Just be glad that you left early! Now go read The Game for yourself so you have a better idea of what to watch out for.

Also, I have some lengthy anecdata below on what healthy ways of talking about attractive people could be like, versus how PUA folks appear to do it.

I am a monogamous bisexual woman currently seeing a guy. Our dynamic is the opposite of what you had with P, my date is actually the least sexually driven person I've ever dated, but he's cool with me talking about my crushes and who I think is cute.

The difference between P and I is that I know when that sort of talk is appropriate, and when to focus on my partner. I don't bring up crushes/attractive people as a way to make my date feel insecure (that is the last thing I want to do!), I only bring it up as a way to bring us closer together. The way we do it, it just shows that I am sharing my vulnerabilities and he has permission to either think it's cute or funny, especially in the case of me crushing on a mutual friend. Then basically, the crush gets treated like an inside joke between the two of us, and then I move on to the next crush.

I also don't say blanket things about either gender. I find *individuals* attractive, because of a combination of their intellect, personality, physical aesthetics, individual quirks, and so on. Not all people of the same scene are hot. But P sounds like he talked about people in such blanket terms, and that constant objectification of other women's bodies is hella icky and douchey, especially when he fixated on qualities you did not have (which sounds like much negging/powerplay).

Another PUA warning sign is this focus on conventional types of beauty: athleticism, large breasts, skin, etc. Whereas realistically, people are attracted to a wide array of body types and unique characteristics. The "normal" people I know (queer women and hetero men included) don't hesitate talking about the voluptuous women they find attractive, the cute editor girl at the comic con with the glasses, the musician whose guitar solos sends chills down your spine etc. See, that sounds like natural ways of talking about attraction.

But PUA-types seem to have such a narrow definition of attraction, and they talk about attractive people in ways that aren't respectfully admiring of that attractive person, but more of in ways that the PUA-dude seeks to have power over them.
posted by Hawk V at 10:13 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Good for you, good for you, good for you! I 100% think you did the right thing.

You said "I didn't think he could do much worse" but the insane part about these types of zero-responsibility for their own emotions, actions, and behavior types, is THEY CAN ALWAYS DO WORSE. And they will, because, why not? There is even a term for it: Escalation.

http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Basics/escalation.html

After all, they clearly aren't to blame, and if the other person simply.... cant... stop being a 'flawed' (ie, perfectly normal human being, with normal errors and desires for independence and security) well, that makes them angry, and then its Hulk time.

This is how people end up with absolutely horrific, near unbelievable stories that sound like something from a Saw movie.... but are 100% true, and, often, even under-sated.

Sounds like you dodged a bullet here!

I'm also surprised nobody mentioned gaslighting, which your first post has some elements of
(I see upon re-read it, anyway)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting
http://counsellingresource.com/features/2011/11/08/gaslighting/
posted by Jacen at 6:52 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


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