It’s the holidays when I’m supposed to be happy, going to a party and dancing with my boyfriend. But I know he’s not the right guy for me. I’ve fallen for his best friend who’s kinder, smarter, and more fun. But he’s also engaged to another woman.
Is it wrong that I fantasize about him when I’m having sex with my boyfriend? It’s the only way I can pretend that everything’s okay between us.
Fantasizing is okay, especially when mutual. But fantasizing privately about your boyfriend’s best friend is not. It’s deceitful in your case, because it imprints in your mind and body how much you feel that you’re with the wrong guy, when he’s making love to you.
It’s also risky. In a moment of sexual heights, you could say the wrong name. It’s happened to many – women and men – and it’s not pretty, because the other person feels like you’ve cheated.
Emotionally, you are cheating your guy. You’re only with him because you don’t want to be alone.
Start the New Year right, with honesty and a boost to your sense of decency. Tell him in the nicest way you can that there’s no future for the two of you and that you wish him well.
Take a break to consider what you want in your next relationship (but not someone else’s fiancé). Then have the confidence to seek that kind of person through meeting new people and demonstrating your own best qualities.
My dad’s been with my stepmom since I was four (now 21). She's always been verbally abusive and manipulative. I used to have severe depression and anxiety leading to huge blow-ups and breakdowns.
Now I'm older and defend myself, but continue to have private break-downs, panic attacks and shut-downs. Or I lash out (verbally) without caring who I hurt.
It’s partly my fault that I'm not taking action to control those issues.
I can’t afford to move out on my own, so I'm stuck. My dad says I have to respect her as she was there when my mom wasn't, and he couldn't be. He says I can’t let her or my emotions control me, that I’ll meet others like her in the world, so take as a learning opportunity.
He’s so run down, he can’t fight his and my battles with her.
My step-mother has suggested counselling but she's so manipulative that I'm afraid the counselor will see me as a child acting out when she's “sweet, loving and merely misunderstood.” She’s played that scenario to family friends and extended family over the years.
I don't want her in my life anymore but don’t know what to do.
Too Hard to Handle
You do need counselling, alone. Tell your stepmother that you welcome the chance to improve your emotional responses, so would accept her help for you to see a counsellor, for individual therapy.
Counselling isn’t meant for declaring who’s right or wrong, winners or losers. It’s to help find ways to deal with realities you can’t change, by learning new strategies for your own behaviour.
Hopefully, your stepmother will see this as a gain for her too. Your father should also be supportive on this, as it’ll provide the much-needed “learning opportunity” that he’s been promoting for you.
Meanwhile, work towards your future independence through further education and getting a job. Also, see a doctor for your breakdowns and panic attacks. Then move out as soon as possible.
FEEDBACK Regarding the young student who felt as an “outsider” in her new high school where the majority of students were Asian and spoke Cantonese (December 6):
Reader – “I was hoping you might also suggest that she ask her friends to teach her Cantonese. I expect some of these friends would have fun doing so and in today's global society knowing another language can open many more doors. (Plus, perhaps bring a boost of confidence to her).”
Ellie – Good suggestion. Any ways of showing interest in others with different languages and cultures are positive steps to ease those barriers.
Some kids in school have already included her at their lunch table and talk about Korean shows they watch. I suggested she ask more about those shows, and also share more about what’s interesting in her own culture, which some of the students may also be learning for the first time.
Tip of the day:
Fantasizing privately during sex with your partner about his friend whom you prefer, is deceitful and risky.