Dear Dr. Neder,
I have read your articles on the Internet, and have found that they've
answered some of my questions about a very difficult situation I'm
dealing with right now. However, as everyone has unique circumstances
they're in, I would like to ask you some questions about my own
relationship and am truly interested to hear what you have to say. I
will try and keep this brief & to the point, with only necessary
I'm a 26 year old female who has been with the same boyfriend for 10
years, and living with him for 5 years. I know that is a long time for
someone so young, and I guess that is part of my problem. He's 4 years
older than me and is very committed to staying with me, we have a lot in
common and enjoy doing everything together (snowboarding, biking,
climbing, camping, etc).
Anyways, my two main issues are communication and sex. I have great
difficulty telling him my true feelings, he is very opinionated and
tends to dominate any conversation or make me feel like what I say is
wrong. So we don't have discussions about 'us', we have lots of small
talk about common interests or future aspirations, and that seems to
keep things going just fine. I don't dwell on the fact that we don't
talk about our feelings, but now that seems to have become a problem
(I'll soon tell you why!).
Now the sex part... I don't enjoy having sex with him at all, and we
only do it a few times a month. He doesn't pleasure me, and he only
lasts about 5 minutes. What else can I say about that... because I am
young and attractive, lots of guys flirt with me and enjoy the
attention. I have cheated on my boyfriend several times, he has found
out about a couple. Just a few days ago we were at a party, and he
walked in on me while I was making out with someone else.
Maybe I was hoping he would catch me in the act and break up with me. In
any case things have been very strained since then, he has expressed his
feelings about the situation, but I have been unable to. The first few
days I slept on the couch, but then we went out and got drunk one night
and he 'let' me sleep in our bed. He let me sleep there last night too,
and it seems wrong to me. We've kind of been going about our lives like
normal, we went mountain biking with a friend yesterday, had a bar-b-que
last night, and went for coffee today... I'm afraid that this might just
slip by with nothing said, nothing gained, but definitely something
So, what advice do you have for a cheating girl who can't see herself
living her life without satisfying sex, but is too afraid to leave the
man who loves her and has been her best friend for 10 years? To give you
a little bit more personal information about me, I'm a genuinely happy
person who lives a good healthy life; I'm very personable and get along
with lots of people. I'm not depressed, I don't hate myself, and I know
the grass isn't always greener on the other side. I can see both sides
of a story. I'm humble. My boyfriend has never cheated on me.
I'm really scared to tell him that I think I should leave. We have lots
of shit together that we'd have to go through; we're paying off a truck
together... I'll let him have the truck, it's easier that way. He can
keep the apartment we rent too; I'll find my own place. But there's so
much other stuff, I don't know where we'd begin...
Sorry that was kind of long, but it's nice to write some of this down as
I haven't talked about it to anyone.
Well now - aren't you two the archetypical suburban couple? You have the
outward appearance of the perfect relationship while you're slowly dying
Ok, let's get to the meat of this first: get your ass out of there. For your
boyfriend to have just brushed this under the rug is a very bad thing. You
having to find ways to get him to react is a very bad thing. There isn't much
that is really healthy with this relationship from what I can see other than
the fact that you're both good friends. Is that really what you want in your
life? Obviously not.
Let me assure you of this: you're losing those parts of yourself by being in
this unhealthy relationship. Everyday that you spend here; while tolerable,
isn't helping you to move forward in any way. Get your ass out.
Now, the difficult part: your goals.
You don't have any. You want some nebulous things related to passion,
closeness, introspection, etc., but you're not really even sure what they are
and you're waiting for your boyfriend to give them to you. He obviously isn't
going to do that. After 10 years, you'd surely have seen it by now, don't you
So, your first step should be to decide exactly what you want. I'd suggest you
start this off with your own personal growth because this "relationship" (if
you want to call it that) isn't giving you any opportunity for this. Use this
exercise to craft your perfect situation. Don't put specific people into your
goals - think instead about your perfect life and how it will be when you've
The next step is your exit plan. You're going to have to make some plans as to
exactly how you're going to make your move. If you need help here, check out
this article on breaking up:
http://www.beingaman.com/breaking_up.htm. Consider that after 10 years of
being together, your lives have woven together. There are many of these
strands tied together that you need to untie. Frankly, it's a little messy,
but what's the alternative?
Finally, remember: every ending is a new beginning - not just for yourself but
for your boyfriend too. He gets to move on as well and grow from all of this.
Dr. Dennis Neder
Have a love, relationship or man/woman question? I answer all email. You
can write to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org for answers.
For more information about my book,
"Being a Man in a Woman's World",
Copyright (c) 2003, 2004 Dr. Dennis W. Neder All rights reserved.