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Suddenly having doubts - please help me sort my head out and do the right thing

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  • Suddenly having doubts - please help me sort my head out and do the right thing

    Fairly long post, sorry about that, but this is a tricky situation and right now I'm quite scared of screwing up majorly and would really appreciate some advice. Some quite heavy stuff in the beginning section here so tread carefully.

    I'm 25 and from the UK. My girlfriend is 24 and from Malaysia. She is really wonderful - beautiful, smart, loving, caring, very warm and amazing at listening. Unfortunately she has not had the easiest of lives. Her mum died when she was 13, and coming from a family of 6 brothers where she is the only daughter, she found it very hard during her teenage years not having anyone to talk to about 'girl stuff'. Then when she was 16 she was violently gang raped. I'm sorry, it's very hard for me to write that, but it's important here. She actually got pregnant, and decided she wanted to keep the baby, but then had a miscarriage. She had low self-esteem, depression and anorexia after her rape. She had a boyfriend at high school who cheated on her for a year without her knowing (she and he didn't do anything physical while they were together, because that's not how it works in Malaysia, but he certainly betrayed her emotionally). Many of her relatives and friends' relatives (male) cheat on their partners, including her dad on her stepmum. Her entire family is Muslim and she doesn't believe in it, but they don't know that. Some of her brothers are quite controlling over her and she has come to distrust and fear men as a result of that, and of her other experiences (understandable). She is a student in London and it took her a few years of living here to take the step of going on a date. I was the lucky first guy she wanted to meet, and we got on amazingly and have been together for over a year now. It's against Islam for her to date a non-Muslim, so when her family found out they were angry, and she lied to them and told them that we broke up to make things simpler for her rather than having relatives gossiping about her and telling her she is bringing shame on the family for being with me (which they did say). I'm the first person she has ever had sex with, or even kissed (what happened to her when she was 16 wasn't sex, it was rape). I'm also the only person she has ever actually told about what happened to her. Other people know because her family told them, but I'm the first person she told about it herself. I'm telling you all this because it's important to know for later, that in a lot of ways I am a first for her, and she has shared her deepest self with me. I have also shared everything with her, but the difference is, I had a girlfriend before her, and I come from a very stable and happy background. I'll come back to this later.

    We both love each other deeply, but here's the problem. I'm starting to wonder whether the relationship is right for me in the long term or not. Some context on when I am writing this: I'm currently in Japan, on a solo trip I've been working towards for years. In a couple of weeks' time I am going to South Korea for 6 weeks to travel and work (my work is kinda my passion too, it's something I'm very excited about). On Wednesday 12th September (this week), before I go to Korea, I'm flying to Malaysia to meet my girlfriend there, where we have planned a ten day holiday together (in her home city, Kuala Lumpur, though her family doesn't know I'm coming of course). The dilemma I'm going to explain below would be a big problem at any time, but right now I feel like it's pretty urgent for me that I figure out what to do before I see her.

    This might just be me unnecessarily panicking, being stupid, and I haven't had that much sleep the last few days which may well also be affecting my judgement. Either way though, I've been going over this in my head and not been able to get anywhere, which is why I really need some advice. The situation is... well, nothing has actually changed in our relationship. I think it's a very healthy relationship, but it's more that a couple of things that I had sort of pushed to the side before now have suddenly come to the forefront of my mind. I guess it's because of going on this trip, having a bit of time to myself but probably more meeting other people and having a bit of time to reflect on what I want that has brought it on.

    It all started when I met a girl the other day at my hostel in Tokyo. She was really cool, and we had a great time chatting over dinner. She was really attractive too. But the thing is, it wasn't that I actually wanted to be with her. For one thing, she had a boyfriend and was also quite religious and I'm not into that stuff so much. By contrast, my girlfriend and I have a lot in common with the way we see the world, and even the things we don't agree on, I think it's been healthy for both of us to experience a different perspective on. Also, I think my girlfriend is incredibly beautiful so it's not like that's a factor in this at all. It's not that I wanted to be with this other girl, but it was fun hanging out, and it did make me realise that there are some aspects to my relationship that I suppose I do wish were slightly different. My girlfriend's quite a shy, reserved person, and although I have a great time with her when it's just the two of us, I guess there are some things I want to do that maybe she isn't really into. I like having adventures, whereas she likes to plan things more. That's fine with me, but sometimes I enjoy doing slightly crazy things. I'm quite outgoing whereas she loves being alone with a book. She is a wonderfully warm person and although she doesn't believe it herself I know she could make friends very easily if she wanted to. At the same time, she is not particularly spontaneous, although I know she is keen to try more new things, but it doesn't come naturally to her. I like drinking, whereas she doesn't drink. I actually don't mind that at all, I enjoy doing different things with her than with the rest of my friends, but sometimes I feel like she wishes I didn't drink, or get drunk ever, even though I really don't drink or get drunk that much. Another thing is that she works in science and I work in the arts. Sometimes it's hard to share things about work with each other because we don't have a shared understanding about what we both do (although we are both learning). I guess what it comes down to is, being with her, I'm not sure I'm really able to experience all the slightly wilder things I always felt I wanted to experience in life. I could of course do more outgoing things with other friends, and I do, but it's just not the same as with a partner. She is the person I spend the most time with in my life by a long way. Even as I write this I feel terrible, because we have loads of fun together, but I know deep down that I crave some experiences that she just isn't all that into.

    Some great things about being with her: I almost always feel really happy and peaceful when I'm with her. We both love each other very much. We make each other laugh a lot, and I think we're pretty much in sync with each other most of the time. We speak every day and send messages when we don't see each other. She is incredibly supportive with everything I do and always listens to me (she's a really great listener). Like I said before, she's beautiful and I love walking with her and hanging out with her and I feel lucky to be with her. Basically, I know how much she appreciates me and she knows how much I appreciate her, and that makes me feel great. But still, there's this nagging feeling that somehow there might be some things in life that I'm missing out on, even though I'm not exactly sure what they are. Perhaps just a feeling of really being able to experience all the possibilities of life. But there are so many positives to being with her that I'm not sure whether I should just ignore those other feelings or not, or try and fulfil them in some other way.

    (continued below)

  • #2

    This dilemma would already be hard enough as it is, but the situation really isn't simple. I guess this has very high stakes, not just for me but for her. The truth is, she's suffered a lot in her life and it makes me incredibly sad to think about that, but if I leave her I really think it could be crushing for her. I'm not saying that to big myself up or anything. She has said to me before that I am everything to her. I know that the truth is, she has lots of things in her life that she cares about besides me, but she only has a few (very close) friends whereas I am lucky to have lots of friends. She's about to start a PhD for four years in the UK, knowing only a handful of people here. I know that part of the reason she wanted to get the PhD was so that she could stay here and be with me. As I mentioned before, she has also opened herself up and told me things that she's never told anyone before. I know that being with me was scary for her because she's never really been this close with anyone. And guys have treated her badly her whole life. I know she's very scared I might leave her, because I think she thinks I don't like the fact that she is complicated and has a lot of stuff in her life that she has to deal with. She often asks if I wouldn't prefer to be with someone simpler, like someone whose situation was less complicated. But that's not the problem for me, I don't mind that at all. I love her and want to be there for her and help her with those things. The worry I'm having is more to do with wanting to fulfil my own desires in life, it's not to do with her situation at all.

    The thing is, I think she'll be incredibly depressed if I was to leave her. I come from a stable, happy background whereas she really doesn't. She needs me more than I need her. We both know it's true. And I know that in an ideal world we're all supposed to sort out our own problems and be emotionally stable before starting a relationship, but the stuff I'm talking about with her is stuff that is going to affect her for the rest of her life, that she can't just get over easily. Her mum dying, her brothers controlling her, her not wanting to be a Muslim. She still has recurring nightmares about when she was raped. I would love to make things work for the rest of my life with her, and I don't think that's impossible at all, but on the other hand I also don't want to wake up one day and feel I've not fully explored some of the possibilities of my life. Spontaneous adventures, experiencing new things. Traveling. I mean, I'm doing that now, and I know she doesn't mind at all, she's very supportive, but I'm learning Korean and planning on working between the UK and Korea in the future, whereas I know she'll have to go back to Malaysia for a while at least after her PhD and I guess all that could cause problems down the line. I can't deny that in the last few days I have been having a kind of fantasy about meeting someone that gives me everything that my girlfriend gives me but who is also a little bit more carefree. Maybe meet someone in the arts, someone who likes to try new things. Not someone wild, unbalanced and out of control, but just someone who also loves putting themselves out there and experiencing all that life has to offer. And not just a friend, a woman who I can love deeply like my girlfriend but who keeps me on my toes a bit more. I think that's probably incredibly selfish of me, and I'm scared that if I were to break up with my girlfriend all that would happen is that I'd be lonely, would never meet anyone as amazing as her again and regret it, not to mention the fact that I'd be incredibly sad thinking about her having to cope with all the stuff in her life on her own, and also not getting to speak to her again (I know she doesn't like the idea of being friends with an ex, it's just the way she is).

    I've never met anyone like her before, and I do think we have a wonderful and very fulfilling relationship together. I am a fairly idiosyncratic person and she is very patient with some of my personality quirks. When we are together, I feel like I can tell her even the weirdest, most private thoughts I have, and she will be happy to listen and try and understand. I really hope there is some way to make it work with her, and I am certainly still in love with her, but despite all the positives I also don't want to feel like I am sacrificing a key part of who I am to be with her. Up till now, I've felt fine not addressing this issue, and felt that what I got from our relationship was enough, but I think being in a new country and having the freedom to explore by myself has re-awoken some feelings that perhaps I had buried a little.

    Should I try and accept that a few of the wild adventures I want to go on might have to be shelved in order for us to be together, and just be grateful for all the good things about the relationship? Or will this only become more and more of an issue if I leave it unaddressed? And what do I do during our trip in Malaysia? I'd be very appreciative for your thoughts, but one thing I need to be clear about is that I really can't talk to her too directly about this. I can always encourage her to step out of her comfort zone a bit, which I have done in the past with some success, but I think this is really a private thing for me to figure out. She is vulnerable, though she would hate me saying that and is strong in many ways too. We both believe that being open and communicating with each other is extremely important, but if I talk to her too directly about this, if I tell her that I wish she was a little more exciting (which is how she'll hear it, even though that's not what I mean), it'll only re-awaken some of her insecurities that I hopefully have helped her overcome a little during the past year or so, and I don't think I could live with myself if I made her feel that way.

    Thank you in advance for your advice, I really appreciate it.


    • #3
      Sorry i only read part one.
      That was enough.
      She only ever told you about the gang rape ? Yet other people know because her family told them?
      So did she only ever tell you? How does her family know? Were they the rapists? Something doesn’t add up here!


      • #4
        Sorry if I wasn't clearer about that. I get why you might think that but the thing is, she blacked out and was taken to hospital, and then her family were told by the doctors/police, which is how they know. I'm 100% sure it wasn't them but I appreciate your concern about that

        Edit: I'm the only one she has *told*, but other people know, she just didn't tell them herself
        Last edited by arigato; September 10th, 2018, 10:29 AM.


        • #5
          I'm feeling like your dissertation posts are an exercise in reflection which you need. If you discover yourself through writing, maybe continue to write more. Although from your writing and thought process, you seem to be repeating yourself several times and you take long paragraphs to explain one emotion: guilt. My suggestion to you is to self-reflect more and understand what you want out of life in general.

          I also want to canvas that if you don't know yourself you'll never be able to connect and commit. I'm very different from my husband. He's a planner to precision and in our home/personal life I certainly am not. He's at the top tier of his industry in the arts. I work in finance/accounting. You're scratching at the surface of your relationship and I don't feel the distance in a long distance relationship is meaningful to a relationship that's lacking in growth in general. Be a bit more realistic with yourself. You're very ungrounded and it's an unattractive trait for (more) serious long term commitment. In other words, you're going to be chasing your tail for awhile and wondering why the world doesn't like you or why things aren't working out for you until you realize what you want and are more realistic about your life, your career and what it takes to excel in what you do and the kinds of relationships that you want to have around you.