Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Stepping forward, or stepping backward?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Stepping forward, or stepping backward?

    I'm almost 25, and I'm in my first relationship. We have been dating for a year and a half, and we have been living together for half of that time as well. This is a request for advice, but it's also me putting my thoughts down as words, hopefully allowing me to make more sense of them.

    My girlfriend and I have talked about the future, and we are both on the same page (at least, I think I am). We both want marriage, we both want children. And we agree on most if not all of our goals for the future. The concern I am facing though, is that I know she wants to get engaged - the sooner the better. I don't think she minds if it's a long engagement, but she wants that commitment. I'm not opposed to that, I have been shopping for rings and everything. But lately (since I began really considering proposal in earnest) I have kept having doubts. Am I sure she is the right one for me? That I'm right for her?

    A lot of my doubts go back to this being my first relationship (though not her first). I am afraid I could be committing to something without even knowing what alternatives there are. I always hear advice about dating, and how it lets you learn what you want in a partner. Am I learning things I want, and will I realize at some point that I don't have them? Will I regret marrying her without "playing the field" as they say? On the other hand, I'm not into dating. It took me twenty three years to ask a girl out at all, I don't really see myself going out with a bunch of girls, I don't really want to either. I like my relationship, I like who I'm in a relationship with. I don't desire a different one, and the thought of going through the process again is not pleasant. Yet I still keep asking myself if committing is a mistake. In a way, I feel like I'm answering my own question. But then things get slightly more complicated.

    Firstly, I'm afraid to talk to her about my doubts. I know she will feel inadequate, or scared, or hurt. I'm worried that this could be a red flag, am I not exploring possible issues in our relationship because I don't want to hurt or scare her? We have both told the other that we don't ever want to leave the other, that we love each other forever. I feel that, I really do. But then when I have the fears and doubts, I wonder if feeling like I have already committed (by saying forever) is influencing my thinking. Am I unwilling to really look at my relationship and its flaws because I don't want to break a promise, even if it's not a vow? And if I bring this up to her, will she lose trust in me? Will it come across as having broken a promise, and would it damage the relationship?

    Secondly, there is a bit of a sex issue. But I feel extremely conflicted, because it's a problem brought upon by health issues. My sex drive is higher, but in theory that is only because of the medication she is taking for depression. I feel horrible about myself any time I feel unfulfilled or disappointed, what right do I have to feel disappointment given what she is going through? When the relationship started, she wasn't on those pills, and we had more physical intimacy, but also more emotional breakdowns. Now she seems to feel a lot better, but the medication suppresses libido. I'm afraid that if our sex life stays as it is now, my feelings will change toward her, and that it could pull us apart. I'm not interested in sex with anyone else, I'm not longing for some "other" but I'm fearful that such a longing, or worse, a resentment could build later on. I don't want sex to be a problem, but I'm afraid it could become one.

    Thirdly, there have been some rough patches, and I'm not sure whether they have all fully healed. I don't feel any resentment, I'm not "holding a grudge" but I am concerned that they could mean something, or become the foundation to something unwanted later. The first rough spot is jealousy. I... don't really understand jealousy on the level other people do. But she feels it strongly, having suffered from cheating boyfriends and such in the past. While she doesn't snoop in my stuff or anything, she reacts badly if, for instance, a female Facebook friend "likes" something I post. She has gotten much better at this since the beginning, back then she would question me on people I was friends with, and get very intense about the idea of past relationships (I told her I have been in none, but she often became skeptical of this), very early on this almost resulted in me breaking it off. But now, rarely does anything like that happen, and it's more a mildly curious question. But I am afraid this could become a bigger issue if I had any female coworkers in the future. I don't feel like I can make female friends, and while I'm not really looking for any, I am concerned if ever did how she would react. The jealousy is partly self doubt though, she feels inadequate, which also leads to certain jealousy about other things... like pornography. We both watch porn, and she has stated that she is okay with me doing so, and is okay we me looking at whatever I want (short of illegal, of course) but she firmly doesn't want to know about it. This was fine until she accidentally say something, which caused something of a meltdown. Later, she said it was okay, but at the time I wasn't sure if we were going to survive it.

    Another rough spot was last year, she thought I was going to propose to her. I don't feel like I did anything to indicate that, but when it didn't happen it hurt her, and when she told me it hurt me. It's a very painful memory for both of us, and I know it's something I can never bring up. But by far the thing that hurt me the most, was the dog. I'm not a big fan of dogs, and I don't have a great explanation for why that is. But she loves dogs, and despite having told her I wasn't into them, and she said it was okay, she started to push for one. There were many back and forths about this, I didn't feel ready to get a dog, but she needed one. One night, she tried to adopt a dog without my approval (we lived together by then) and if not for the shelters policy (they require the homeowners consent) she would have. I think that would have cause d a breakup, I don't know if I could have lived with the betrayal. Eventually we did decide to get a puppy, and I love the puppy. But I still feel we aren't quite ready on a few levels - it's expensive, we don't have enough time, and I'm still nervous about having the dog at times. I don't hold a grudge about it, and I don't think I would undo the choice to adopt the puppy if given the chance, but I'm fearful what it could mean for the rest of our relationship - how far she went to get what she wanted. On the other hand, I definitely don't think I was being fair about it, I didn't have some big childhood trauma making me fear dogs... I don't know what my issue is. So I don't know if she went to far, or if I was too much of a stick on the mud.

    Anyway, that's a big wall of text, and it's most of the important bits. I'm afraid that if I go ahead and commit, I risk a future that won't be sustainable, or that I will miss out on something else. But if I don't go ahead, would I be losing the love of my life? I love her, I really do. But do I love her because I don't have any other experience to compare to? Or because she really is the one for me?

  • #2
    Well, you've certainly given this situation a lot of thoughtful and thorough consideration.

    My feeling is that you are not in a position right now to commit to this woman for life, and that it would be a huge mistake to do so in light of your indecision and doubts. She is your first relationship, and you're right to think that if you were to marry her, you might always wonder what life would have been like if you had had the chance to date and experience other women.

    The sex disappointment, the jealousy, and the fact that she would try to bring in a dog when you expressly said you didn't want one all indicate to me that you may not be right for each other in the long term. Loving someone isn't the same as being compatible with her. And without compatibility, things can get rough. Unfortunately, you've made a decision to live together, which is a huge impediment to being able to resolve this problem.

    For the time being, I would have a heart-to-heart with her. Tell her about your doubts and that you're not 100% on board with a lifelong commitment at this point. Don't let her bully you into making a commitment that you're not comfortable making. Perhaps you should take a break...stop living together. Do anything you need to do to sort your head out and determine if you can live the rest of your life without ever having known another woman.
    "What lips my lips have kissed and where and why I have forgotten." ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

    Comment


    • #3
      From everything you describe about your relationship, I would say you two are not compatible enough for a long term marriage. The jealousy, lack of intimacy, trust issues and the fact that you have never been with anyone else, all point to discontent in the future. You are both still quite young. Please just take a break for a month or two and date other people. If you don't do this, I am afraid you will end up unhappily married with a couple of kids who will not fare well when you eventually divorce.

      Comment


      • #4
        In one short year you've had way too many issues with her and doubts about going forward. Either wait and see how things pan out in another year or so or leave now, heal and then get on with finding your life partner... someone who does not have extreme jealousy issues, or depression.

        I was dating my husband for three years before we moved in together, lived together for another three before we tied the knot. We have been married for four decades now and we've made it work because we knew each other very well before we committed to be life long partners. Don't let your guilt or her pressure make do anything (leave or stay) prematurely. Se needs to be well before she should be marrying anyone.

        I don't think you need to date others. When you are happy with the one you're with, then the thought of not being with anyone else or testing what else is out there doesn't even cross your mind.
        Last edited by phasesofthemoon; July 9th, 2018, 09:11 PM.
        "First off, welcome to the Relationship Forums, You'll come to understand that I don't pull any punches when giving my opinion/advice and I hope you're not so sensitive to what I see as the truth of the matter." Me!

        Comment


        • #5
          I think you should forget about your girlfriend for a moment and think about what you want in a partner. Like really think about it - what is important to you, how she should treat both you and others in your life, what kinds of things you want to do together, what her personality is like, what her values our, what kind of future you want - where to live, kids or no kids, lifestyle, etc. Does she match up to this image closely? If no, that's probably the reason for your doubt. If you don't think she will ever match your ideal, then yes maybe you are right to wonder if there is someone better for you out there because there probably is.

          If there are small issues they can maybe be fixed (ie, maybe she doesn't get along well with your friends but this is something that can be worked on). Or maybe you can find some kind of compromise or strategy in your sex life that will leave you both satisfied. No relationship is perfect and they often require some compromise and willingness to work together.

          If she does fit what you are picturing, then hold on to her and stop wondering what could be. I made this mistake, ending a 12 year relationship with somebody special who treated me well and loved me in a very good way. Through dating others, it become so apparent to me what I'd given up and I will always have regrets about it no matter how happy I am in the future.

          I don't know which situation is yours, you must know better. But I think it's important to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side, while keeping clearly in mind what is most important to you and realizing that you can and should leave if it is not present in your relationship and it can't be worked on.

          As for the engagement, you should be able to explain to her how you feel about her and reassure her that you want to be with her right now but aren't ready to get engaged. I wouldn't tell her that you have doubts, it might be harsh and hurtful to hear. But maybe you can let her know that you aren't ready, don't want to feel pressured, and that getting engaged will be special when you are both ready to make that step. There is no rush, and to be honest being engaged or married doesn't always equal commitment. Lots of people break off engagements and get divorced.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thing is that most of the time, the rough patches don't even come to mind. When I'm with her, I feel so happy, and I just want to run out and buy a ring. But when I'm not with her, when I'm actually thinking about doing something, that's when all this anxiety comes up.

            I have a lot, I mean a lot, of anxiety in my life. I don't like to talk to new people, I don't make friends easily, I procrastinate any interaction with people I don't know, and even those I do know. I worry about every little thing, even if it's completely trivial. Something as mundane as paying a tuition bill in-person would give me a load of anxiety, I would be scared to get in the wrong line, step in the wrong place, say the wrong thing, and somehow it would be a world ending event.

            So when I have thoughts like I am now, I can't help but wonder if I'm being ridiculous or not. I'm not bitter about any of the rough patches, I'm not still upset. I don't know if those are things I actually care about deep down, or just what the anxious part of my brain wants to dredge up to mess with me.

            I think you should forget about your girlfriend for a moment and think about what you want in a partner. Like really think about it - what is important to you, how she should treat both you and others in your life, what kinds of things you want to do together, what her personality is like, what her values our, what kind of future you want - where to live, kids or no kids, lifestyle, etc. Does she match up to this image closely? If no, that's probably the reason for your doubt. If you don't think she will ever match your ideal, then yes maybe you are right to wonder if there is someone better for you out there because there probably is.
            I want someone who cares about me, and treats me and others fairly and kindly. I want to marry, I want to have children. I like where I live, and while I would like to have a bit more money, I'm not out to get super rich. Those are all things she fits and wants as well. But there are some things I guess I "want" that I don't have. I try to always see the best in people, but because of her experience she is prone to seeing the worst. This is something she is working on, not in the sense of trying to change "for me" but trying to improve herself. Aside from that, I want a person I can talk to about anything, but she isn't comfortable talking about sexual stuff that isn't her (it makes her feel inadequate by comparison) so I can't ever say someone is hot on TV, or tell her what kind of porn I look at - she tells me those things, because I ask her and I actually like hearing about it. I just kinda wish I could share that with her. But again, her perspective is changing. She is getting more and more comfortable with that sort of thing, just as the jealousy thing is petering out. I think there were a lot of emotions left over from her bad relationships that are fading, and as she trusts me more, the negative feelings are lessening.

            Could it be that all the things I'm not totally happy with are just remnants of her own anxiety and insecurity, and they will pass?

            Again, I'm having such a hard time because I know myself. I know I overthink everything. But in this case, I don't know which direction I'm overthinking it in. Paying a bill, I can tell myself people do it every day, the people there are being paid to help you do that. But this is new territory, and there isn't a guide. I don't know if I should be shrugging off my doubts as silly, or if there is something here that most people would just say "nope" to and walk away.

            Comment


            • #7
              You seem like a really sweet guy! I like that you've really given everything a lot of thought. I feel like you want it to be able to work with but you can't rely on the things you're not happy with to just "pass." I've only been in one relationship too, and we've been together close to three years now. Like you, I've always had doubts about what else is out there and I've tried to kind of sweep things under the rug or hope that they will change and get better over time. At the end of the day, I've found that generally the things I was unhappy about haven't changed and I wonder even more about what else is out there every time one of these issues comes to light. You can hang in there and try to keep moving forward to see how things progress. Maybe they will get better, but for me they didn't, and sometimes I look back and wish I'd broken up with my boyfriend a longtime ago instead of remaining with someone I had so many doubts about.

              Comment


              • #8
                If you love someone you just are with them and you want to be around them. Part of love is being there through all the steps and learning and evolving together. It's not useful to dissect and become a quivering mess. You'll never get anywhere in a relationship, not to mention your own life. Yes, you're right - getting a puppy at 25 is a bit silly and it limits you both from expanding and growing as people. Work on your careers and expand your portfolio and post-secondary/grad education. Although now that you have this commitment you may either want to fully commit to it or give it the boot and put it up for adoption. I'm aware I do have a more hard line approach. In the end you need to be asking yourself if this is the life you want to be living and if you are reaching your full potential.

                She seems fairly smallminded to me especially regarding her over-possessiveness. It's not like you're seeking out or following those porn stars on your social media or seeking the attention from other women, for crying outloud. YOU, on the other hand, need to feel confident that you absolutely don't need the company of other females at work or wherever. The fact that you're quivering about this makes me distrust you also and wonder about your intentions beneath the surface.

                I have never been with someone with depression and I don't know what effects this has on a partner but I bet it does wear someone down. If you are open to the idea, maybe you might benefit from counselling or at least talking to someone about how to be a better partner next to this person. I don't believe we live in individualistic airtight vacuums. We affect each other constantly in relationships and friendships. It may be time to recognize the effects of this relationship on your personal/mental health and see whether you can make progress and evolve with it in a healthier way.

                Comment


                • #9
                  YOU, on the other hand, need to feel confident that you absolutely don't need the company of other females at work or wherever. The fact that you're quivering about this makes me distrust you also and wonder about your intentions beneath the surface.
                  On that front, I don't feel the need for additional female company. What I'm concerned with is that right now I have no female coworkers, but if I changed jobs, or my company (two people, startup) hire more people, would she become suspicious or jealous.

                  I don't have a lot of friends, very few are close in any way. She is the only close female friend I have ever had, and that's fine to me. I've never cared to have lots of friends. And part of my whole trouble is that she is my best friend. So imagining her not being there anymore is pretty scary.

                  As for depression, it's always going to be a challenge. Any health problem is going to cause stress, and mental health problems often do doubly so. But it's something I understand, I'm not without my own problems, and it feels good to talk to her, and see her finally begin to smile when she starts to feel better.

                  I'm wondering if we need to see someone, both individually and as a couple. It's hard because I don't really trust people easily, I have a hard time opening up. And I have been resistant to therapy in the past when she mentioned it (for me personally).
                  Last edited by CuriousOfAllThings; July 10th, 2018, 05:09 PM. Reason: Added info.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CuriousOfAllThings View Post

                    On that front, I don't feel the need for additional female company. What I'm concerned with is that right now I have no female coworkers, but if I changed jobs, or my company (two people, startup) hire more people, would she become suspicious or jealous.
                    Sorry- this makes totally no sense to me. You're worrying about an illusive situation. First of all, you don't even have that job you've dreamt about in your mind. Second, what makes you think any females want to be friends with you in the first place. Third, you're insecure about her reactions and your behaviour. I think you're living too much in your head and dreaming up issues that aren't there. Deal with what's on your plate: the depression and both of your insecurities in the relationship without getting too creative. If you're bored, focus on your career path. Stop dismantling your relationship.

                    I don't have a lot of friends, very few are close in any way. She is the only close female friend I have ever had, and that's fine to me. I've never cared to have lots of friends. And part of my whole trouble is that she is my best friend. So imagining her not being there anymore is pretty scary.
                    Work on this too. Being co-dependent will colour your view and you'll live in fear forever. Remember that YOU are your best friend. Not anyone else. The person you depend on is you. The person who puts on your clothes, works for your bread and butter, the person who's happiness matters and whose happiness you can control is YOURS. Don't be misguided into thinking that any one person is your happiness.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Rose Mosse View Post
                      Sorry- this makes totally no sense to me. You're worrying about an illusive situation. First of all, you don't even have that job you've dreamt about in your mind. Second, what makes you think any females want to be friends with you in the first place. Third, you're insecure about her reactions and your behaviour. I think you're living too much in your head and dreaming up issues that aren't there. Deal with what's on your plate: the depression and both of your insecurities in the relationship without getting too creative. If you're bored, focus on your career path. Stop dismantling your relationship.
                      And you're right, I'm imagining possible problems that I don't have. And I'm not surprised I'm doing that, the anxiety problem is a big one, and knowing it's a problem I have... I can't really trust my own thoughts at times. Normally I can just logic myself through anxiety, but this is a situation where that approach has not worked so far.

                      I would point out though that my fear isn't just imagined, it's based on past events. I have lots of Facebook "friends" from high school and college, and if any females comment or "like" something I post, she used to get kind of intense asking me who they were. My fear is that if she mistrusts any female acquaintance from the past, who would she react to a new one at work?

                      And yeah, you're right. I probably shouldn't be worried about that so much, and I'm honestly not that worried about it. It's just one item on the laundry list.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CuriousOfAllThings View Post

                        And you're right, I'm imagining possible problems that I don't have. And I'm not surprised I'm doing that, the anxiety problem is a big one, and knowing it's a problem I have... I can't really trust my own thoughts at times. Normally I can just logic myself through anxiety, but this is a situation where that approach has not worked so far.

                        I would point out though that my fear isn't just imagined, it's based on past events. I have lots of Facebook "friends" from high school and college, and if any females comment or "like" something I post, she used to get kind of intense asking me who they were. My fear is that if she mistrusts any female acquaintance from the past, who would she react to a new one at work?

                        And yeah, you're right. I probably shouldn't be worried about that so much, and I'm honestly not that worried about it. It's just one item on the laundry list.
                        Forget those chicks on fb. Listen, who matters? Your friend list or your romantic relationship? That's something you need to answer. You're not prioritizing the important things in your life and I think that's why you're running into issues. If you're not ready for a serious relationship, then you're not ready. There's nothing wrong with that. But telling yourself or someone else that you are and acting dopey caring what other females on facebook think or not being able to intelligently answer what role they play in your life (if at all) is both deceiving and negligent. My advice (meant in the most sincere/caring way) is to really grow up and take inventory of what you've got and prioritize what matters in your life. Things don't just fruit out and stay ripe and juicy forever. You have to work at it especially in a relationship, protect and nurture that bond and learn to allow each other to grow. If you cannot answer for your decisions in life, you're going to run into all sorts of problems and let me tell you, relationship woes will be the least of them.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          She suffers from depression and severe insecurity. You suffer from severe anxiety. You walk around on eggshells to avoid hurting each other. That is no way to spend your life.

                          Neither of you are in a heathy enough state individually to be making a long-term commitment. So gather up the courage and get some counseling. Individual counseling first would be good so that you have the strength to go into couples counseling and can handle what comes up there.

                          Comment

                          Working...
                          X