I recently started a relationship with a woman, which resulted in her leaving her husband.
I made sure to state from the get-go that her decision to leave him must be of her own consideration, not dependent on our relationship.
Now, as we're discovering the “new norm,” I feel both the shame of starting a relationship on these pretenses, and of her saying she loved me three months after her seven-year marriage ended.
It’s pushing me to break up with her before it goes further. What should I do?
Was I Lying to Myself?
Maybe you weren’t consciously lying to yourself, but you definitely weren’t thinking very hard about obvious consequences.
Since she left her husband so soon after your relationship began, you knew where this was going as soon as she mentioned love.
Your reactions of shame and the urge to run, signal that you must end it. You owe that to her.
You’ll likely devastate her, because her emotions are currently fragile. She saw you as her rescuer from her unhappy marriage.
Be clear that the image is your fault, that you let it go too far. Be prepared that she may respond very angrily.
Since you should’ve realized that you were dealing with someone at her most vulnerable time, accept her anger, apologize for hurting her, and wish her well.
She’ll need time and distance from you to absorb the break-up. And to re-think about when to trust the men she dates, now that she’s a divorced woman.
My wife and I were together for seven years with no kids. I knew before we married that her condition of vaginismus prevented us from having traditional intercourse.
We had couple counselling and therapy to work on our sexual issues. Unfortunately, our progress has been zero.
Also, she has a much lower sex drive than mine, is sexually very conservative, doesn’t like oral sex, and refuses anal sex.
I’d thought I could manage my sexual needs through self-pleasure, as I loved all other aspects of our relationship.
However, I’ve realized I cannot continue without a meaningful sex life with another person.
A year ago, I suggested opening up the relationship so I can have my needs fulfilled elsewhere, while maintaining everything about our relationship that we've both enjoyed very much.
Her response was a flat no, plus the ultimatum that I'm either with her or with someone else.
I know the vaginismus isn’t her fault, but I’m increasingly resentful that her response is selfish since it affects us both.
Also, all the literature I'm now studying says vaginismus is common and has a 100% cure rate.
I feel we’re headed for divorce, which will destroy both our families.
You both thought you could last as a couple, despite her vaginismus and low libido.
You faced it together. You’ve changed. She hasn’t.
Maybe her condition which typically makes vaginal penetration impossible or extremely painful, is now treatable. Or maybe not.
She can’t accept your having sex elsewhere. To her, it changes the relationship.
Your potential decision isn’t about your families. It’s about you two only.
If you no longer want to live without a sexual partner, you have to say so. Blaming her doesn’t make it better or easier.
If she refuses to consider any alternatives, that’s her choice.
Meanwhile, before making a definitive move, suggest that you both return to counselling, and see her doctor about any new hope for her condition.
That would show you both tried.
FEEDBACK Regarding the letter-writer’s concern whether to advise a friend whose roommate is an alcoholic (Aug. 16):
Reader – “My wife’s a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon while caring for her mother who was dying.
“I'd then known her as a colleague and friend for ten years.
“After two rehab facility stays, both failures, she finally made her own decision and got sober.
“One thing she pointed out was that knowing I was nearby, caring and willing to help her, was very important to her recovery.
“We've been a couple for ten years now, she works as a manager and we co-own a home.
“I'm writing this because both rehab places insisted that I should dump her so that she'd bottom out. It isn’t necessarily so.”
Ellie – While the alcoholic has to want sobriety, caring people have to try to help. Al-Anon can be a great resource for learning how.
Tip of the day:
When dating someone recently separated/divorced, avoid sending misleading signals about the future.