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Sex or Love?
May 1, 2012 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I have a boyfriend who I love dearly. We've been together 3 years, live together, I even moved countries to be with him. He's kind, smart, easy to get on with and everything I thought I wanted in a man.
Then there is Nathan. This man is my kryptonite. We've been friends a long time, very very flirty friends. We've been openly attracted to each other since we met, but always seem to be in other relationships or not looking for one when we meet up. We both love dancing, we can talk for hours about things we're interested in, and he makes me feel warm and loved every time I'm around him. We've been sneaking out to go dancing, or have snuggly movie nights, but up until recently we'd never slept together. We'd come close, but never crossed that line.
Before I moved away with my boyfriend, Nathan took me aside and told that his worries that I was moving for the wrong reasons - because I was unhappy and stressed where I was, because I had met someone new, and because I'm the kind of person who jumps from one brilliant idea to the next without thinking about it overmuch. I told him he was being an idiot, and put it down to him being upset he was losing his salsa buddy.
I've had a long time living with my boyfriend, Chris, and he truly is wonderful. He's a man who always needs to be worshipping at some font or other and since our relationship began has started to like all the same things I like, read the same books, listen to the same music, even completely change his opinions on a lot of topics. It makes things easy for me, and I know he does it because he thinks the world of me, but of late it has started to become a little cloying. More concerning, our sex life is nonexistant. Six months into our relationship I developed a revulsion of sex and sexual things I was still trying to shake off two years later. I hated Chris touching me, and I made him feel like crap a few times because I was too overwhelmed to hide it. He's never been a brilliant lover, very formulaic and animal, no tenderness. In many ways he's a blunt instrument, and thats reflected in bed. I've always been an intensly sexual person and all of a sudden I was uninterested not only in Chris but in the act itself. These days we have sex maybe once a week and for me its always a grit-my-teeth-and-fake-it experience.
I make him sound like an awful person, but in fact he's been nothing but good to me, more than good to me, and I love him dearly, but increasingly that is more as a close friend than as a lover. We've built a life together we both enjoy and find quiet happiness in, but I do feel stifled by his conventional sensibilities.
Just recently Chris has been travelling alot with work, and I've been here alone. This doesn't bother me much, but when Nathan came over to visit his brother, I leapt at the chance to catch up. We went out for coffee and within fifteen minutes I was feeling sexy and fun, more like my old self. we chatted for hours and coffee turned into lunch, turned into wandering around the city. The thing I like about Nathan is that he's a genuine lady's man, he honestly just loves women. He had a new girlfriend, which is why he'd stayed celibate on his recent trip to the UK, but as usual he avoided telling me about her even when I asked directly. He spent hours playing with my feet, my hair, hugging me for no reason, so when he finally kissed me it was no real surprise, but it was lovely and warm and delicate. He gave me a lift home, and we made tea and talked some more. I hadn't thought about it much but I had a vague idea that because we'd never slept together we wouldn't cross that line, so when he started to kiss me I didn't fight it. We kissed and talked for another few hours. We both got very emotional and talked alot about how important we were to each other in a general sense, but he always finished the thought with 'but you wouldn't leave Chris for me" and then changed the subject. When we finally did have sex it took me completely by surprise in a burst of lust that wouldnt let me think to justify it. By the time I was aware of it, it'd happened.
There are alot of things that worry me here. Since that day, Nathan has avoided me, cut short conversations online and by text, which is the only real way we can communicate, living so far apart. Since that day I've realised how much he means to me, how attracted I am to him, and I cannot stop myself from thinking about him every waking minute of the day. I've tried to tell him that but he sidesteps me every time. He knows I'm not interested in turning his life upsidedown, but he won't respond when I ask him to talk things through. Since that day my sex drive has kicked back into gear and then some. Its excruciating, but I'm still not interested in Chris sexually. I've thought about leaving but I really do love him and I don't think I'd be able to knowingly cause him that much pain. Also, despite my current addiction to Nath, he lives in another country and truly isn't in a position at this moment to get into a relationship, even if I thought he was interested in one. It kills me that I don't know how he feels. I think that is what I need to know more than anything, how he feels and what he thinks of all of this. The day we slept together was so emotionally charged, and I'd swear at one point I saw tears in his eyes, but now he's cut me off without a word. He's not a jerk, he's not a guy who's ever just in it for the sex, so why is he acting like one?
I'm sorry this turned out so long, I think if I didn't get it out I'd just burst. Please help me, I can't think straight! I think I'm in love with this man and it's breaking my heart.
That’s some story!
You fell into a full-blown infidelity. When cheatingSee Infidelity. has entered the scene, you’re long overdue for serious relationship help!
As I reflect on your recent sexual affair with Mr. Kryptonite, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that you chose to be with Chris, a man who you love but who doesn’t do it for you sexually. You knew this about him and still you went forward and pursued the relationship with Chris.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kryptonite has always been lurking in the wings. You both have been flirting with each other for years. You’re both drawn to each other but, as you said, you both manage to be in other relationships or not looking for one whenever you meet.
I’m thinking that your mutual lack of availability may cover a mutual fear of intimacyThe causes of fear of intimacy are nearly identical to the fear of commitment. See Fear of Commitment. Think about it. You never pursued each other when you both were free, and he decided to pursue you, now of all times, knowing that you both weren’t available.
I'm wondering if you are both drawn to forbidden fruit, meaning that you only want each other when you’re not available! Many people who are afraid of true intimacy hide out in safe relationships or have affairs, which is another potent way of diluting intimacy.
Think about it. You’re living with Chris who you love as a friend, but not as a lover, meaning you’re in a rather anemic relationship that lacks an essential element. As for Mr. Kryptonite…clearly he’s not happy in his primary relationship, otherwise he wouldn’t have cheated on his girlfriend and slept with you. But the two of you have never made the move to be with each other exclusively.
Since it’s so wonderful with the two of you, why isn’t he asking you to take the plunge with him? There are two possibilities: either he isn’t capable of forming an intimate lasting relationship; or he’s avoiding you because he’s sure you won’t end your relationship with Chris. Mr. K already said that he knows you wouldn’t leave Chris, so he may be avoiding you to protect himself from getting heart broken.
Rather than passing the buck to Mr. K, and trying to get him to say how he feels, you need to clarify how you feel and what you want to do about your relationship with Chris. If you aren’t prepared to leave Chris, then what’s the point of discussing the matter with K-man?
In truth, you’ve both been hedging your bets. He doesn’t want to show you his cards before you show him yours. You’re trying to get Mr. Kryptonite to tell you how he feels, meaning admit to you first that he would leave his girlfriend if you would leave your boyfriend. In other words, you’re in a Mexican standoff in which you’re both passing the buck. I say it’s about time for you to get buck-naked with yourself; bare your soul here, first to yourself and then to him!
I have to say that I have a sneaking suspicion that even if you told Mr. K that you would leave Chris, he would run scared.
But we’re never going to know until you face your own need to play it safe, perhaps due to a fear of intimacy. You must decide whether what you have with Chris is enough for you or not. By the way, your sex life isn’t supposed to be a swallow your medicine type of experience!
If you’re done with playing it safe and settling, then the cleanest thing to do would be to end your romantic relationship with Chris and be his good friend, and then open yourself to finding a more complete romantic bond with Mr. Kryptonite (if he's capable) or with another man.
I’ll be eager to know what you decide to do and how it shakes down for you.
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