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I am at a crossroads in my relationship and am unsure of what to.

Published on January 7, 2012 by poppyfox

I want to make it clear that I do love my boyfriend very much, and that he has treated me wonderfully in every way except he was unfaithful online, and our sex life...stinks.

Anyway, a month after we started dating he asked me to put his e-mail in my phone to check it since I didn't have a computer at the time.  It was set up on my smartphone, and was automatically updating when he got a new message.  That was great for him because he was always over and always used my phone.  Fast forward a week later and a message pops up for a response to a message sent on AdultFriendFinder.  It was a very explicit message sent to an older woman, telling of all the things he wanted to do to her, in graphic detail.  Things that he still won't do to me 2.5 years into our relationship.  I question him, he says that his friend was over using his computer and set up the account as a joke.  I knew he was lying, but I cared for him enough to ignore it.  Fast forward to two months ago, and I asked him to tell me the truth, which he did.  It has detroyed my trust in him, and I find myself thinking of leaving him.  The problem is, is that we were both laid off a month ago, and are both full-time students.  On top of that, we lease an apartment together, have shared credit cards, bank accounts, we share a dog, a kitten, and a 55 gallon aquairium, and have internet and TV contracts that are too expensive to break.  We are both living on unemployment, and are both dependent on each other, we know it.

He has told me that he doesn't want me to be in the relationship if I am sticking around because of the financial situation, but I find it very hard to leave because of it.  I don't have any friends that I could move in with to leave, but I am starting to feel very depressed being here.  I know he loves me, and I love him.  He wants to work it out, and so do I, but I feel like I can't ever think of him as the same person.  He has bever done anything wrong aside from this, which makes it even harder to leave.  I honestly felt that he was worth getting remarried, which means a lot to me.  We have tried to work on it, and regarding the sex, he has tried to do it with me more than once every two weeks, but it's not getting better.  He still refuses to go down on me, which is my favorite part of foreplay. 

On top of it, I started to have feelings for a man in one of my classes from last semester, and it really makes me doubt that things will get better.  I know that people can have crushes while committed, so that's not an issue to me.  However, I really, really like this guy.  He is a programmer like me, loves video games as much as I do, and is as nerdy as I am.  My partner has a tendency to laugh about my interests in the sciences, and doesn't like how I see myself as a geek, while the other man embraces it.  It's very difficult to deal with, as I wouldn't leave my boyfriend for him because jumping into a relationship after one goes sour is always a bad idea. But it is very tempting.  Did I mention he's from Eastern Europe?  It's really, really tempting.

My partner has made me into a better person - because of him I have gone to college, started running for my health, and has me being proactive about politics and my own hobbies.  He has been so good for me, but the main thing, the online messages, really sticks in my side.  I feel like I can't trust him, and I am unhappy.  I really am. 

I guess what I'm asking is, what would you do?  Would you leave a man who has given you the world, over AFF?  If you would leave, how would you do it while in school for another 3 years and on unemployment, knowing that you have $1000 of mutual bills due every month?  I feel very stuck, and confused.

ANSWERS

I hate to be pessimistic, but I think that your relationship has likely fizzled to the point of no return. I think trying to stay in order to work it out or to prevent the financial fallout will just make things worse. I actually think that if this relationship is to be salvaged, moving out and getting some space would actually be the one thing that helps-- give the two of you and your relationship a chance to breathe without all of the financial baggage. With all those expenses and both of you being unemployed, that has got to be stressful.

What bothers me more than the cheap, tawdry email sex is that he "has a tendency to laugh about me interests in the sciences, and doesn't like how I see myself as a geek." My guess is that that's an important part of who you are-- it speaks to a mind set and a way of seeing the world that your boyfriend doesn't care for. And it's not even a bad habit or anything; you're a computer programmer and a gamer geek which means in certain circles you're a pretty awesome girl. It's one thing if he just didn't understand these things but you connected on other things, but to laugh at you or denigrate you because of these interests makes me think less of him as a person. And I don't even know him.

So, on to the sex part. He cheated on you. Ok, look, I understand that we could debate the "definition" of cheating all day long with all of the variations of physical, emotional, cyber, etc. But you feel like you've been cheated on so you were cheated on. And he wasn't even discreet about it. I mean, he knows that you can check his email without even really snooping about-- with his permission it comes to your phone. This actually leads me to believe that he's the one wanting to end the relationship, he's just being too chicken to come out and do it nicely (and possibly wants you to do it so that you're the one holding the financial bag?) We also learn from this unfortunate episode that he does, in fact, have a sex drive. He just has no desire to utilize his libido with you. That right there is a big honking red flag in your face.

So look, I understand that breaking up is going to be hard. You've got all your finances entangled to the point where you're likely going to need an accountant or mediator to disentangle them. But really, it's better to disentangle everything now before things get to the point where you can't talk to each other. It's likely going to be less expensive in the long run to go ahead and get out.

Be sure that the bills and expenses are split fairly-- I know it's painful to cancel contracts, but cancelling it is usually cheaper than keeping something you can't afford and if you're unemployed then you can't afford it. You should look into freelance work or temp jobs or work-study or really anything to bring in some more money. This isn't something I'd normally recommend, but look into a little bit of additional student loan money or another small loan to pay off your half of the expenses and make sure that your name is taken off any shared accounts. That's really really important and you'll be on the phone with customer service a long time, but give the money directly to the company to which it is owed and then get your name taken off. Then move into student housing or rent a room in a shared house or whatever you have to do to make it work until you're back on your financial feet.

I understand that this will be a blow financially, but it sounds like neither one of you are particularly invested in the relationship emotionally anymore so I would think that it would be a relief to just disentangle. You can always be grateful for the positive things that he has brought into your life, but that doesn't mean that you have to have the same feelings for him forever. Especially if he's not doing much to nurture them.

Thanks Turtledove. I appreciate your advice, very much. I think maybe you have taken this the wrong way. I do love him, he loves me, and the situation was something harbored for two years. I don't know, I'm not trying to justify it, but make sense of the situation. He really is a great man, his family is perfect, and I wouldn't ever question the relationship aside from the online situation. This is just so hard. I really thank you, though, and I will have to think harder.

You're young and don't have the life experience to know that it takes a lot more than love to have a lifetime of happiness with a partner. Please listen to the previous poster. It doesn't matter how many good qualities this man has. Lying and cheating are dealbreakers! Be roommates only, until you can move out. Never settle. You should be very picky about a lifetime partner. You only have one life on this planet. Why not pick someone who is kind, respectful, faithful, trustworthy, etc? You will thank yourself one day, if you do this.

Sticky situation. Unfortunately, this is why I do not think people should live together before marriage. Since you are already in the situation, it makes more financial sense to stay for now and leave when the lease is up OR cancel the credit cards, split the bank accounts, decide who gets the dog/kitten and leave. It costs more to keep the internet and cable, rather than cancel it and move on. Maybe you two can work on the trust issues, or decide to live as roommates and agree not to bring dates back to the house.

I may be young at 24, but I have also been through divorce (due to marrying a very physically abusive man). I feel, and act, a lot older than I really am. If I do leave, lose financial stability, my dog, my school - everything that has been a stable point in my life. Do I leave someone who two years ago sent one message to a woman that was never even returned? I've asked advice from so many people, and what they fail to realize is that I WILL LOSE EVERYTHING if I do leave. I may be young, but I also don't want to couch surf while trying to maintain $1000 a month in bills, in college. So do I compromise and forgive something small, or do I drop out of school, default on my loans and credit cards due to being on unemployment, and try to find a way? It's an impossible situation.

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