Summer of Love, Autumn of Love? Never of Love?
July 31, 2008 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Love, intimacy, sexual frustration, distance, inaction... help me deal with the complexities of it all.

Bear with me, this will be long.

I met him a full three months ago, and two days later we were cuddling up, tickling toes, and bonding over Rock Band (oh yes, we are such geeks ^_^). He is sweet and quirky, matching up with my quirkiness, and I never had any trouble being ME around him (complicated subject, but I'll save it for another day). We sneak pokes, hugs and cheek nuzzles - all those lovely things. It just clicked. It just did.

As this is the first man who ever returned my feelings, I was completely overwhelmed with this affection. Dreamed about him (strange dreams they were), thought about him, can't stop thinking about how warm he is when he holds me or kisses me... all those things are so new to me. I grew up in a family that was (and is) less than loving, and was anti-social for the most part, so I never really had much interpersonal contact with people, much less physical. So when he came along and showed me love, it hit me like a flood. In fact, I cried for a couple of nights after that first night of cuddling because I was so overwhelmed I couldn't hold my emotions in. Yeah, I became obsessed with him, thinking in a fantastical way.

Alas, all good things must end, or at least become problematic.

He is moving back to Sacramento; I still have a year left in Berkeley. Some weeks ago, he told me this: "I don't want you to think that I'm looking for a serious relationship, because I'm going to be moving away, and it's highly unlikely I'll be here in the fall." Since then, I haven't been able to sleep well, thinking too much about the inevitable (having an overactive imagination doesn't help in this case) and feeling less than energetic during daytime. I blamed myself for setting up my fantasies as though they were realities, and lying to myself about the reality of it all. And worse, there still persists a feeling that not everything has been told, that there is still more to discover and understand, and if we broke bonds because of naive misunderstanding... I can't really tolerate brokens bonds through misunderstanding.

To make matters worse, since the last time we made out, my sex drive had flared up and stayed up. I confess: there were many times I wanted to just grab him and tear off his pants. But I kept these desires to myself and tried to suppress them, because to force someone into that kind of situation is against my morals and perhaps his. We never slept together, by the way.

To make matters even worse, I've become quite clingy to him. I stayed nights at his place often, telling him that my room is boring (it is, compared to his place), but really I just wanted to be with him for a little longer. Everytime I hug him, I have to tear myself away to go home. My rational mind keeps telling me that such behavior is childish and selfish, though he never said anything against my clingy actions.

To this day, we still are poking each other and giving surprise kisses. He never said those three words, but I can read it in his body language - I never said them because of a belief that the guy should say it first (don't ask). But when I think of that day he will move back to Sacramento, and my chances of seeing him going sharply downhill (too used to just walking five minutes to his place for a movie and/or Rock Band), it tears me up. The general advice I've heard is "don't worry, you'll find someone who can be with you", "hey, shit happens. Don't think about it too much", etc. But CAN it work out? CAN he and I work something out? Is it possible?

Help a love-newbie, HiveMind. DTMFA or work it out, or something else? And how the hell do I suppress my sexual urges and stop being so clingy when he's an inch away from me, or no inches at all?
posted by curagea to Human Relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tell him what you just told us. Try to be as serious as possible and use as few emotions as possible while explaining it.
posted by Electrius at 9:41 PM on July 31, 2008


When is he moving to Sacramento, exactly? Is he going in two weeks, two months, "someday"?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:47 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]



"I don't want you to think that I'm looking for a serious relationship, because I'm going to be moving away, and it's highly unlikely I'll be here in the fall."

can long distance relationships last and sustain? sure. people do it all the time. however, some people dislike the distance and problems that come with it. it seems your beau might be one of those people. he's told you as much.
posted by nadawi at 9:52 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


It could work if both of you really want it to, and can sustain that for however long it takes. He has told you that he doesn't think so, ahead of time. Break it off now rather than later.
posted by phrontist at 9:57 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, it CAN work out... But that really doesn't depend at all on the opinions and advice of online strangers. Instead, it depends on you and Awesome Dude working together, with dedication and complete honesty. It really doesn't seem like you have that. It isn't even clear from what you've said that you've spoken to this guy much at all about your plans for the future. If you're nervous, talk to him. If you're smitten and would even fight against all the armies of darkness to be with him, let him know. He may respond warmly, and then all will be good. He may also respond coolly, at which point you'll know a bit more about how he views your relationship.

Furthermore, get a grip on your sexual drives. You're in something of a relationship with this guy--you'll kiss and cuddle and play around--but the idea of any sort of sexual advances would be "to force someone into that kind of situation"? What, exactly, do you mean there? Are you equating any sort of sexual advance with rape? Because, if so, stop it. People move from second-base to sex acts in wonderful, consensual ways all the time. If you can't figure out a way to do that with him, then there is something more seriously wrong with your relationship than just the drive from Berkeley to Sacramento. (That is, unless you mean something totally different by your comments. Are you against pre-marital sex in general? Is that what you meant?)

What you will learn with experience (as everyone does sooner or later) is that whether or not you still give surprise kisses is not as important as communication and comfort. Romance matters, yeah, but you seem completely swallowed up in infatuation. That's fun, but notice how you've given us no information about what you have told him about your expectations, and notice how you even bend the truth in order to get to spend more time with him (by saying you really just want to be at his place because it's less boring than yours): that's not good communication, and it's not a good bedrock for a relationship.

In short, exactly what Electius said. TALK TO HIM. If it's hard for you to do so (as you've given some hints at some interpersonal communication difficulties on your part), I'm sorry. You're going to have to learn, but it will be completely to your benefit in the end.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:59 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


The distance from Berkeley to Sacramento is around 80 miles. I know students and staff who commute to campus from Sacramento, via train and BART. If you both wished, you two could spend every weekend together.

The only trouble in paradise is this: Some weeks ago, he told me this: "I don't want you to think that I'm looking for a serious relationship, because I'm going to be moving away, and it's highly unlikely I'll be here in the fall."

But, you say, He never said those three words, but I can read it in his body language .

It sounds like you need to talk to your boyfriend about your relationship. Here are some sample questions:

You say you aren't looking for a serious relationship. So what kind of relationship are you looking for?
When you move to Sacramento, how much do you want us to see each other?
Will you come visit me?
When would you like me to visit you?
Can you imagine us being together in the same city after I graduate?


You don't simply have to ask questions. You can say what you want. For example, "I want to see you as much as I can while you are in Sacramento. After I graduate, we should think about moving to _________."

More information would be good for you now.
posted by ferdydurke at 10:20 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd bring up the idea of a long distance relationship. He may likely balk, seeing how he already said he wasn't looking for a serious relationship due to the upcoming move. OR... he could have been testing to see your response. Either way you should talk to him about it, but don't get your hopes up... I think if he is at all a commitment-phobe, this is a great situation for him-- loving short-term GF, with a built-in out. Can't say he didn't warn you, etc. However, it could be the beginning of something more, if he doesn't mind a LDR, and returns the intensity of your feelings.

I think the way he reacts to this discussion will tell you a lot about the true nature of his intentions. Doesn't mean he's a bad guy if he doesn't want anything serious, and/or a long distance relationship. It just means the sooner you can get over him, the better.
posted by np312 at 10:27 PM on July 31, 2008


Sorry but I think he's giving you the easy let-down. It's just not that far from Berkeley to Sacto if it's a relationship that he's really into. He's trying to be gentle and trying not to hurt your feelings but from what you say, it just doesn't sound like he has any long-term plan for the two of you.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:01 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it possible? Sure. Anything is possible. Is it likely? Honestly? No. It's seriously unlikely. Almost nobody's first real thing works out. Really, truly, almost nobody. So is your thing that one in a million? Given that dude told you he isn't "looking for a serious relationship," well, it doesn't look that good. That's objectivity, a quality that love has largely eradicated in you at this time.

If an old cynic who still harbors a romantic heart can offer some advice, try your best to live in these moments, because they are irreplaceable and whatever happens you will never get exactly their like again. Stop dwelling on the future. The only thing that sorts out the future is time's relentless transformation of it into the present. If you decide to unleash your true feelings on him (an act the consequences of which no one can predict, including you, including him), do it because you can't bear to hold them captive in your heart, not for some calculated reason in hopes of engineering a response. You're only young once, little sister. Shut off the computer and get to it.
posted by nanojath at 11:41 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I travel 280 km by bus and/or high-speed rail to see my girlfriend on weekends. It's possible, if both of you want to make it work.

I never had any trouble being ME around him

Then tell him you love him already.
posted by smorange at 12:20 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


He never said those three words, but I can read it in his body language

This, paired up with this:

"I don't want you to think that I'm looking for a serious relationship, because I'm going to be moving away, and it's highly unlikely I'll be here in the fall."

makes me think you're reading too much into his body language. Some people are like that, they look 100% into it, but then really, they're not. This guy, however, has told you he doesn't want to pursue the relationship. That is to be taken seriously. Also, you spend nights at his place, and you guys don't have sex, which to me is a huge red flag. Why aren't you doin' it? Unless it's something like being against pre-marital sex, it just doesn't add up.

In short, the issue here is: believe what he tells you, don't just read into his body language. Which is another way of saying, talk to him about you, your feelings, what you want, and see if they match his. I don't see what you've got to loose.
posted by neblina_matinal at 2:35 AM on August 1, 2008


Oh sweetie. You’ve been hit hard by the love chemicals. Feels great, huh?

My boyfriend & I had something similar when we first met. Lotsa great chemistry and then he moved away. We became justfriends. But we talked/emailed constantly and then we were more than justfrends. After that there was Effort and Communication in addition to fabulous Chemistry. I love yous were exchanged, we talked about our future together, he offered to move to a town closer to my town (and 1.5 hours from his work), he drove for hours to spend weekends at my place.

I guess what I’m saying is that the love chemicals are great, but if you really want something with this guy then both of you need to show your love with more than body language and touch. You need words and action.

Talk to him. You can be yourself around him. You should also be free to speak your mind/fears/passions around him.

Listen to his words, believe them even if they aren’t what you want to hear, and then accept them as reality. See what he does after the move (does he call? does he visit every weekend?).

What I learned from my boyfriend is: If he really wants to be with you then he will tell you he wants to be with you and he will overcome obstacles in order to be with you. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh.

If it all goes pear-shaped and this boy disappears after his move then remember the feelings, mourn the loss, and distract yourself with amusements. Exercise is great for this (yay endorphins!). Also - music, dancing, laughing with friends, and yummy ice cream.
posted by fiore at 5:56 AM on August 1, 2008


Why the hell are you trying to suppress your sexual urges anyway? You've been dating three months, I doubt he'll see it as an imposition.
posted by Benjy at 6:53 AM on August 1, 2008


Wow. This reads almost exactly like something I went through recently (including the bit about Rock Band), except it was very brief -- he moved away in a matter of weeks. I knew it would hurt me once he left, but I went along with it in spades.

Every time we parted, I knew it would be a mistake to make plans to see him again. And yet every time we reunited, I could only think of how happy I was that he was still around. I was completely in the moment, and it made time move a lot differently than I was used to.

We both knew we were heading toward nothing, but I had to ask him about the future again anyway. And it was like getting punched in the stomach. I couldn't help but hope for him to change his mind about the long-distance thing; I'm a complete sap that way. Or maybe I'm just a girl. Either way, it sucked to hear it again, and it made the rest of our time together bittersweet.

But I never stopped being present. The future would come when it did, and I knew it would hurt. (And it has.) Knowing how I react to losing people, it was a mistake to go along with him for as long as I did. But this is one mistake I don't regret. I need to get better at letting go, and this is probably the best lesson in that I've ever had.

And -- this is a tough truth to come across -- I realized that one reason it worked so well with him is that he was completely casual. Some people are very good at being affectionate in a non-serious relationship. He had no problems with a no-strings-attached situation, and for some odd reason I went along with it without thinking. It's not how I usually operate -- I am serious; I need commitment from people; I want a sense of security and the promise of some sort of future. He was very good at making me wish I could get all those things from him, even though I knew it was a hopeless situation. I know for sure I won't be doing this again. (In fact, when he was in town the weekend after he left, I made a point of not seeing him. As much as I wanted to, I could not prolong it any further.)

Your situation is tough because it's been going on for a while. And I hate to say it, but if he's said he's not looking for a long distance relationship, you're probably not going to get one out of him. (I've learned that if a guy says something directly, it's a very good idea to believe him.) You can get out of this now to protect yourself from more hurt and get a head start on the healing process, or you can just be present and enjoy the fact that he's here now. Either way, you have to realize that sometimes things just don't work out. I never used to be the type to want to accept that way of thinking, but now...I simply appreciate the fact that I've had the opportunity to have some people around at all, however briefly.

People come into your life for a reason or a season; sometimes, it's both at once. You've got an opportunity to grow and you should make as much of it as you can. Whether that means letting go now or later, it's up to you. But in all likelihood, it's going to come down to letting go. And it'll hurt, but that's often what growth feels like.

(I'm afraid I have no advice on suppressing your sexual urges. Sometimes the release is helpful, but you yourself have to weigh the consequences of giving in to them.)
posted by phatkitten at 7:33 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


That mad, crazy, out of your mind feeling you have for this guy? It's a drug.
That said, it's a really good drug! It's not illegal, and it feels really farkin' great! Enjoy it, drink it up, make the most of it!

But do remember that it's a drug. As such, don't make any scary life-altering plans while on drugs. Trust the advice of your friends and loved ones even more than you would normally.
posted by browse at 8:07 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


blamed myself for setting up my fantasies as though they were realities, and lying to myself about the reality of it all.

That's like blaming yourself for being normal. Unfortunately for us humans, we have a totally autonomous built in system designed to get us to pair bond with people of the opposite sex. You can be as rational as you like, but it is going to have a say in the matter, one that you cannot disregard.

Here's the shitty part of life--sometimes the person who we develop that bond with is torn from us for whatever reason. That means a world of suck for a while, until slowly, that same system takes over, flushes the body of the pair-bonding juice, and gets you ready again to jump on the roller coaster.

Effective management of this system requires an understanding that it is going to have it's way with you and that accepting this fact is the best thing you can do. You can influence the system via accepting the feelings for what they are, mental and physiological reactions and realizing that their ebb and flow is not a measure of some abstract measurement of your own value. That way you can realize that although these feelings produce powerful urges, they do not dictate to you what you will do with those urges.

Having said that, just enjoy what you have now. It will hurt later, but that's the way its supposed to be.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:38 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]



To this day, we still are poking each other and giving surprise kisses. He never said those three words, but I can read it in his body language - I never said them because of a belief that the guy should say it first (don't ask). But when I think of that day he will move back to Sacramento, and my chances of seeing him going sharply downhill (too used to just walking five minutes to his place for a movie and/or Rock Band), it tears me up. The general advice I've heard is "don't worry, you'll find someone who can be with you", "hey, shit happens. Don't think about it too much", etc. But CAN it work out? CAN he and I work something out? Is it possible?


Whoawhoawhoa.

Of course it's possible that a new couple can work out an 80 mile distance. BUT it doesn't sound like he's given you any indication of wanting to work it out. Long story short: you're asking the wrong people; you need to ask him what he wants.

By asking him, I don't mean reading entirely too much into unfulfilled lust, brain chemicals, and flirtatious body language. You need to sit him down and have a serious discussion with him about the possibility of continuing things after he moves. And, if he gives you a spiel about not wanting to get into anything serious (AGAIN), you need to accept it and prepare to move on.

browse was absolutely right in saying that you're under the influence of the early-relationship-drug. Your body and your mind are going to insist that you absolutely need this person to survive. But this could very well be poppycock--it's not really all that different from stoned people going on and on about how much they love their bongs. Until you're sober you can't really evaluate whether the drug/person's presence in your life is positive or not, so I'd avoid moving to the Netherlands, so to speak.

Also, maybe you should just go ahead and have sex with the guy. Or have sex with someone. It will help you think a lot more clearly. I do think, from your description, that it sounds like you're really really mistaking lust for love.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:13 AM on August 1, 2008


I learned this (many times, in fact) the hard way, so I hope you'll take my advice in the spirit it's meant:

When he tells you he doesn't want a relationship, he means exactly that. Don't assume he's stealthily trying to get you to convince him otherwise.
posted by non sum qualis eram at 9:37 AM on August 1, 2008


Ms. Saint, you're right: I barely talked to him about the situation, simply because I have a hard time talking in the first place, regardless of subject. Oh, I write fine, but opening my mouth is different. Talking feels strange and foreign, and it takes a LOT of effort to get thoughts straightened out in my head in order to talk right, and even then, I start to get nervous and shake.

I wrote him a letter two weeks ago, telling him why I stayed at his place often, my ongoing fight with keeping in touch with what's real, and my thoughts on the situation. If he wanted something serious, then fine, happy happy. If not, that's okay, I'll accept it, because every moment should be enjoyed for that moment, with no worries about the next moment. (Yeah, I told him how big a coward I am by choosing to write a letter instead of sitting down with him.)

I meant every word I said, and still mean them. But I feel like three completely different people now: one, the person who wrote that letter; two, the woman who still wishes for a commitment and dreams about it and all the "happy flowers everywhere" scenario; three, the bitch who slaps No. 2 and tells her to stop it already and think about other things like my two jobs.

By the way, before the letter, I talked to one of his best friends about it, and he said my guy, in the four years he'd known him, had three girlfriends, in all of which he got burnt very badly. Couple that with not knowing what to do with his future, and said friend speculated that's the reason why he doesn't want anything serious.

In any case, I'll talk to him - even if I'm stammering like a fool. He's moving away August 15 at the latest. Thank you all for the advice.
posted by curagea at 12:44 PM on August 1, 2008


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