I am a 25 year old homosexual male. My boyfriend and I have been together a little over a year and a half. I love him dearly but I’m not 100% positive that he’s the man I want to marry and start a family with. Herein lies the issue: he is sure.
Now for some background. This man has had a VERY turbulent childhood. I’ll spare you the gory details, but long story short his parents kicked him out and disowned him when he came out as trans. Needless to say, he didn’t really have a family before he met me. He’s told me on multiple occasions how I’ve given him a family, and I am so unbelievably happy that I’ve been able to do that for him.
However, I feel stuck.
Lately, I’ve been debating with myself if I want to pull the trigger and break up with him. I know this is gonna make me sound shallow, but part of it is because I miss dick, as he does not have one (he has a very small one that grew due to the hormones, but that’s besides the point) and will not entertain the idea of an open relationship. But the majority of it is because, ever since the pandemic hit, he’s been quite annoying and SUPER clingy. I’m not quite sure where it came from; he was never like this pre-COVID.
Like he’s told me, I’ve finally given him a family, and I have no idea how in the hell I can even BEGIN to take that away from him. And that comes in addition to the internal debate that normally comes with wanting to break up with a person.
I also thought it might be worth adding that he has told me multiple times that he would never break up with me. So, if either of us were to break things off, it’d be me. I don’t like that and, I’m no relationship expert, but that can’t be healthy. What if I were to royally screw him over in some unforgivable way?
Any advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
–Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Let me ask you something, CBRHP: are you asking me for advice or are you asking me for permission to do what you’ve already decided you want to do?
I mean, I’ll put it bluntly: there is no way of breaking up with someone that isn’t going to hurt. Ending a relationship with somebody, even a relationship that needs to end, is a painful experience. There really isn’t a way to tell someone that you don’t want to date them any more that isn’t going to hurt. The scope and the length of the pain is going to vary depending on a lot of different factors, but it’s going to be there. The key is to avoid unnecessary pain, to make the process as quick as possible and — if you can — give him a place to land when the break comes. And honestly, I get the fear of leaving someone because you’re worried about what might happen to them afterwards. I’ve fielded a lot of questions from folks who were afraid to break up with their partners because they were worried about suicide, self-harm or otherwise leaving them worse off than they were before. I’m not unsympathetic, especially when that fear isn’t born out of an abuser taking themselves hostage to keep their partner around. But there comes a point where you have to ask yourself: how long are you going to stay in a relationship that you aren’t happy in because leaving your partner will hurt them? Another year? Five years? Twenty?
All that having been said: it doesn’t sound like any of the problems you have are insurmountable or unfixable if you want to try to fix them. You say you miss dick. Does it need to be biological dick? There’re a host of options available to give your partner (and you) a penis of just about any size that you might desire. Get the right harness for your partner and the two of you could have an entire smorgasbord of cocks of every size and shape for whatever whim the two of you might have that day. Hell, depending on just how much the hormones gave him, he could even get a penis extender sheath — think of a 3.5mm to 1/4″ plug adapter, except for your junk — that would give him him sensation during penetration and you the dick you’re looking for.
Similarly, the clinginess and be dealt with. “Where it came from” seems pretty obvious to me; it’s likely equal parts an understanding reaction to the COVID pandemic and the fact that he probably feels you becoming distant from him. Both of these are understandable. A lot of people are having complicated emotional reactions to life under COVID, especially if they came from troubled backgrounds. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to upend your (already) fragile sense of security and stability and leave you clinging for one of the few rocks in your life. Similarly, your boyfriend isn’t dumb and I don’t think you’re the poker player you think you are. The odds are very good that you’ve been acting differently as you’ve been thinking about breaking up with him. While this may not be the most productive way of handling things, when some people are afraid their partner may be pulling away from them, their instinct is to try to cling to them even harder. This doesn’t often help… but it is a common response.
And honestly there’s nothing wrong with being in a relationship when you aren’t 100% sure you’re ready to settle down and start a family. You (obviously) don’t want to make promises that you can’t or won’t be able to keep, but not every relationship is going to have perfect parity of emotion between both parties. That’s a thing that can often ebb and flow.
All of these things are issues that could be worked on. Your boyfriend could talk to a counselor about his anxiety and the two of you could work with a sex-positive couple’s therapist to work on his clinginess, your need for dick and the question of where this relationship is going in the long term.
But again: that’s if you haven’t already made up your mind and you’re just reaching out for advice on how to end things.
If that’s the case… well, like I said, the best thing you can do is to make the break as quick and as clean as possible, and to soften the landing for him as best you can. You gave him a family, and that doesn’t necessarily need to come to an end. Presumably his new, found family consists of more than just you. Giving them the heads up that you’re about to break up with him and he’s going to need extra love, care and attention would be a kindness, and help ensure that he has the support he needs. But staying with him, when you emotionally have a foot out the door, isn’t doing him any favors. If anything, the longer you stay while you’re in that headspace, the worse it is for him. After all: how would you feel if you found out that someone you loved had spent the last however-long you were together wanting out but not leaving because reasons?
You have a choice to make here, CBRHP. If you aren’t sure you want to end things and you’re willing to try to fix the relationship, then commit to doing so. But if you’ve decided that you’re ready to leave and it’s just a matter of how… do it soon, do it fast and leave him with as much support and as many resources as you possibly can.
Hi Doc, I’m a woman dating a man, I need help and you seem to be good at this stuff.
For context: I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half now, we’ve met each others families and some friends before and we’re the process of moving in together. So far so good. He moved in already but for reasons (long story) I can’t do it properly right now but I’m staying with him this week.
Last night two of his tight knit group of friends came over for beers, including one friend I hadn’t seen before. I stayed in the other room, working on a project, while they were cooking. I was giving them time for themselves, but the plan was that I would join them to eat. Anyway, once I did join I don’t think any of them said anything to me for maybe 3 hours, one of them asked if I also cook once and that’s it.
They spent almost the entire time talking about an online game they play, Dungeons and Dragons, and statistics. I don’t play any of those, nor am I at the level of math to be apart of that conversation, but my boyfriend is the DM and I usually enjoy hearing about the adventures he’s planning. I work with theatre sometimes, and am a big film buff so stories is a common interest for us I guess. But with his friends I just sat there, feeling dumb and weird. I tried to chime in the few minutes the topic was politics or pets but couldn’t really get through and I gave up. It was horrible and I don’t know how to handle these kinds of situations in the future.
It feels sad if I have to just plan on never being home when his friends are coming over. It’s not like I disliked them, I just don’t know what to do or say. I’m not super socially savvy, and it’s not that I don’t understand having specific interests and wanting to talk about them. I have my geeky interests too, like the Whedonverse and Doctor Who and silent films and some historic textile things they wouldn’t know or care about probably. I just don’t want to just sit there like a piece of furniture while they talk. One of them lives super close too and I think my boyfriend wants us to have like double dates with him and his wife. Judging from tonight, I’m afraid it’ll be the guys talking all night and expecting us women to bond with each other, because we’re both women I guess. And that dynamic is such a crappy thing. Maybe she’s awesome but I just feel super weird about it now.
Any tips on what to do?
Left Out In The Cold
There’re few feelings more awkward and uncomfortable when you’re with your partner’s friends and you’re quickly realizing that you have virtually nothing in common with them. That sense of awkward silence and desperately wanting to flail around until you find some common ground leaves you wishing that you could drop a smoke bomb and ninja-vanish out the window.
But one uncomfortable evening doesn’t necessarily mean this is your future from now on, nor does it mean that you’ll have to dip out everytime your boyfriend has his buddies over. And, honestly, it sounds like you’re reacting in part to facts that aren’t in evidence yet. You’re working under the assumption that his friends couldn’t possibly think that Doctor Who or Firefly are interesting, despite there being a rather staggeringly large crossover between those fandoms. Similarly, you seem to be anticipating your boyfriend looking for double dates with his friend and his wife and the expectation that you and she will bond because hey, you’re both women, right? But right now that sounds more like a reaction to an (understandably) uncomfortable evening, not some destiny that’s already been carved into stone.
Let’s start with his friends. I doubt that you were the only person sitting there feeling weird and uncomfortable. I imagine they felt a little strange trying to connect with you as well, but with three folks who are in the same campaign or on the same server… well, it’s not unexpected that they’re going to fall to talking shop and not realize that they’ve left you sitting there with a very visible question mark hanging over your head. It’s inconsiderate, don’t get me wrong, just not unheard of, especially in nerd circles. This was also the first time you’ve met at least one of them, which adds its’ own layer of “don’t know you/not quite comfortable yet” which can add to the awkwardness. It’s also not impossible that they’re a little on the oblivious side themselves and aren’t sure how to connect with you.
The x-factor here could well be the number, not the friends. Having all three of them together can create a different vibe than if it were just you, your boyfriend and one of them. In that case, it may be much easier to talk to him and get to know him without feeling like you’re getting left behind by the conversation. And — assuming that the theoretical double date does come to pass — the dynamic of two women and two guys can change things as well; the odds that it’s just going to be guys talking about their geeky stuff and you and the wife talking about your geeky stuff is… relatively low. More often than not, the conversation tends to be more all-encompassing and less likely to leave people feeling excluded.
At the same time: don’t assume that they couldn’t like what you’re into. It may not be a 1-to-1 ratio of “yes, they ALSO like Buffy and Angel”, but just as you may not be into D&D but enjoy the storytelling aspect of it, they may well dig on some aspects of your geeky passions. Hell, some of the aspects of historic textile work may well be right up their alley, especially if any of it touches on the eras that D&D borrows from rather liberally.
(And hey, you could always check out Critical Role for the storytelling, as well as a way of connecting with them. Or just because it’s fun. I don’t really have a point here, I just really need to get caught up on the Mighty Nein. I’m so damn behind on the podcast…)
The other thing to do is mention this to your boyfriend. You don’t need to say “hey, make sure your friends include me in the conversation” or “could you talk about things BESIDES gaming?” but giving him a heads up that you felt a little shut out when the guys were over the other night might spur him to realize that you were being left out. If he realizes that you’re feeling a little alienated by the conversation, he can help steer things towards topics that you could take part in as well. It’s the considerate thing for him to do, especially if you’re feeling uncomfortable or awkward about things. He could also help by taking a moment in the conversation to give you a quick refresher or idea about what they’re talking about so you can at least partially follow along… even if you don’t get all the nuances of it all.
But again: I think you’re drawing a lot of conclusions off one awkward interaction. And yeah, it was a little uncomfortable, but I don’t think they’re doomed to be that way. Give them (and yourself) a little time to warm up to each other, see how they are under different circumstances and give them a chance to hear about some of the stuff you enjoy. They don’t have to be your new BFF’s, but you don’t need to feel awkward around them, or like you have to avoid them entirely.