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Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been with my boy for 2 years and I really love him. We were supposed
to get married this year, but decided we were perhaps pushing things a little
too far too fast and postponed the date to an as-yet-undecided future day. We
both want this relationship to work but to do so, I feel we need to resolve a
huge problem that is overshadowing us:
I don't like to be physical with him very much anymore.
I was sexually abused when I was very young and I know this impacts me in
some way(s) every single day, though how it manifests itself in my day-to-day
life, I am never sure. I have never tried to block the abuse from my life, to
ignore it or pretend it never happened. Nor have I ever tried to use it as an
excuse or a part of a poor-me martyrdom act.
Now I am wondering how much of my past is impacting my current relationship
-- or if I am "using" my abuse to cover up the fact that I just feel
cold and numb and sometimes even a little repelled or violently angry when I am
physical with him. I mean, I know that these feelings are often *brought on* by
abuse, but sometimes I wonder if I am simply not attracted to him anymore, but
my feelings of frustration and sadness over this are coming out AS
I am really scared to lose him: I also have Panic Disorder and I know that
he's my safety person, that if I lost him, I might really break down and be
afraid to do all the things I want to do with my life. I don't want that to
affect my decision, but I can't see how it wouldn't.
At the same time, though, ASIDE from the physical aspect of our
relationship, I feel really safe and loved with him. But I feel like I should
let him go find someone a little less confused; I feel like I have led him on
-- I know I am a very different person with regards to physicality at the start
of a relationship than I am later on, but I didn't know I would get to *this*
point 2 years down the road. I know he misses the sexually-okay person I was
when we met, but I am not sure how to get back there.
I know he'd never just up and leave because he's not "getting any"
-- we have talked at length about what's going on; he is very willing to stay
and work through this with me -- but he is also a very sexual person and I know
this is depressing and frustrating the hell out of him as it frustrates and
depresses me. And as understanding as he is and as sure I am that he'll hang in
there with me for quite a while, I know he won't wait forever. He hasn't said
this, but I get that feeling anyway.
And to make matters more confusing, I feel, at times, like I am attracted to
other people and can think about them, physically, the way I haven't been able
to think about my partner in a long time.
I know this is a heavy load, but I feel really desperate. I can't afford a
private counselor and I am a little unsure about my other options. I guess I am
really looking for a somewhat objective opinion. I would like to think that my
partner and I stand a chance here, but if we don't, I want to be able to end
this in such a way that we can still leave the door open for a friendship. He's
one of the best friends I have ever had and I feel like my own bizarre hormones
are on the verge of ruining it for the both of us.
-- Headfirst in Hell
Here's Belleruth! "You are a very insightful and
thoughtful person, and i'm impressed with how much clear thinking you've been
able to do on such a confusing issue. This happens very often with abuse.
You're this hot, super-sexual babe early in a relationship, but then when the
relationship starts getting emotionally intimate and stable (and thus
threatening) the sexual interest wanes. You can even get phobic about having
sex, and that gets worse and worse the longer you stay away from sex. It's more
commonplace than people think.
Believe it or not, if that's what's operating, some
fairly simple behavioral exercises, graduated over weeks from simple kissing
(you know, first base, second base, blah blah) with you in control of the
progression actually works. If that's what the deal is.
If, however, there are other problems in the
relationship, as you have implied there might be, then this could be your
extended way of getting him to get mad and leave you. Maybe he's boring. Maybe
he's at a totally different educational and cultural level. Sounds like you
feel guilty a lot and that you 'owe' him for sticking with you and all your
Or he may be wonderful and you're just too messed up
from your history to enjoy him. Either way, you do need counseling. There are
family service and other agencies -- Jewish, Lutheran, Catholic social services
-- where you could explore this with a nice, neutral, smart person both
individually and as a couple. (You could also get behavioral therapy for your
panic disorder, which includes your phobia about sex.)"
Hang in there, Headfirst. You'll turn things
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