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 Post subject: At a crossroad
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:57 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:31 am
Posts: 331
I have been dealing with my partner's SA for many years now -- although he is no longer acting out since right before D Day in 2009, and we have stayed together, things are not going smoothly for me.

In the early days post-confession, I tried frantically to patch up our relationship. As I have learned while going through the steps in the recovery workshop, there tends to be a burst of sexual activity and effort to re-connect once the problem is out on the table. He was strongly committed to fixing himself and getting away from his SA. He chose to do it on his own mostly, and never wanted to join RN.

As for me, I was very distraught, blaming myself, etc etc. until I discovered RN. What a relief that I didn't have to think there was something wrong with me anymore! I mean, no one's perfect, so yes there are lots of things wrong with me, but nothing that warranted our understanding that we had a monogamous relationship and that it was okay for him to step out and act out.

Anyway, before I discovered RN I tried hard to hurt him to retaliate and even after I joined RN it took me a long time to finally start to develop a healthy relationship with myself first of all, and then to relate in a mature, compassionate and healthy way with him.

We did go for a bit of counselling and he even got some therapy for some of the sexually traumatic things that happened to him before he even knew me. But then he resumed heavy drinking for a while. And even though he has cut back dramatically on the drinking, and I have been around much more since the pandemic started, he has not ever really recovered interest in having a sexual relationship with me. Several months ago he got some Cialis but he hasn't been in the mood to take it, and has absolutely no interest in doing anything sexual with me, although he gives me a very occasional compliment. But nothing intimate other than cuddling and an occasional brief kiss.

So as far as I can tell, he has abandoned the sexual part of our relationship other than cuddling, which is intimate in a way and enjoyable in itself but not sexually fulfilling. It has not been easy for me, and as he has continued to drink and now with covid some of his favorite things have been taken away such as going to the sauna at the local pool, he has become very chronically depressed. He has not been able to handle it well and recently the one thing that was a consistent source of comfort to him was his cat who reached the end of her life -- and so that lovely companionship is now gone. Yes, he has a little bit of contact with friends about once a month, but except for me he is quite isolated and I am the main human contact he has.

We have not had any sexual activity for years now. We cuddle often though, and kiss occasionally, as I mentioned above. But nothing exciting, nothing that leads to arousal on his part. And sometimes I avoid cuddling because for it not to lead to anything more makes me feel sad and then I find if I keep a bit of distance then it helps quell my own natural arousal and I can stand it.

Meanwhile a friend of a friend wanted some help earlier this year who wants to start an important human rights project and immigrate to the country I live in. English is not his first language and except for our mutual friend there is no one else he knows in my country -- and I am pretty much the only one who is able to help. Actually our mutual friend is gone on an extended trip himself.

So I have been helping this new guy navigate the rules and the options for coming here, which is especially hard because of the restrictions of the pandemic. Over the last several months, his English has improved and he has contacted me often by a virtual phone platform -- so we have had long conversations dealing with our humanitarian project and getting to know each other.

Our humanitarian project is moving forward nicely and he has some wonderful ambitions about studying and working in the future where his opportunities for advancement are really good here. He is healthy and has had a lot of adversity to overcome. He doesn't drink. He is also much younger than me. I find him captivating and we seem to have so much in common.

Despite our many differences in background and experience, he tells me he thinks he might want to marry me. he has even talked about our age discrepancy and how he knows of relationships where the woman was much older, that have worked. He even has a friend with an older wife and that has proven to be a good and stable relationship, he tells me.

If it was a total stranger I would be inclined to think he might just be saying that about wanting to marry me, to keep me involved and helping him. But because my good friend stayed with him for a few weeks and told me that this person is very honest, thoughtful and sincere, I doubt that is the case. He has been hard working and has told me repeatedly that he is planning to reciprocate on the work I have been doing for him -- for example I have some major cleaning projects at home that I think he would be great for helping me with and he says he is looking forward to being able to help me with the work.

But I have told him that I am still with my partner, whom I love even though I am not feeling fulfilled these days. I also told him that we can't get ahead of ourselves. I said that even though he thinks he wants me, and that I think I am attracted to him too, we won't really know if we're a good fit romantically until we meet in person.

Without knowing this person for real, it's not really possible to know if this is a real or imagined feeling on either of our parts -- or whether the feeling is or would be mutual. I told him that we need to find out if there is any real chemistry and attraction once we see each other in person -- which can't happen for at least a few months or maybe even longer.

He has told me that what matters to him is not really someone's age or circumstances, but how they make him feel -- and that since I have helped him so much (which is true -- I did advise him about a job he didn't think he qualified for but with my advice he applied and not only got hired, but got a promotion soon after getting hired, and that led to more work, etc.) So he knows I am really in his corner and able to help him effectively -- and have proven to be a good mentor.

But then there is the dilemma of my long-standing relationship with my partner, and that this partner feels a lot of need for me now that he is going through an especially difficult time with the pandemic and losing his precious and beloved cat (I considered her my cat too, even though I don't actually live with my partner). So it's been a hard time for both of us and we've been able to comfort each other. And since my SA and I are finally starting to really treat one another with respect and appreciate our time together, he is all I really have in real life at this point other than a handful of friends. But I do see some of my friends and how they have enthusiastic and committed relationships and I miss that with him.

But will that ever happen with anyone? Even if I think I have an attraction to the new guy from the other side of the world, who knows if I really will feel that way once I meet him. Maybe I will hate the way he smells or the way he hugs me or maybe he has some annoying habit or attitude that I haven't been able to discover when we're on a visual phone call and both on our best behavior. Or maybe he will realize he really doesn't want me after all.

But this new person has a strong belief in monogamy and commitment and I can tell from his body language and facial expressions and what he says about wanting a future with me that he feels very attracted to me or at least believes he is when he sees me on the phone call -- and some of our calls have lasted an hour or more.. He is also very polite and complimentary in a very gentlemanly way. So if I don't learn about him and about the possibility for a future with him I might wind up missing out on the best thing that could ever happen, who knows? I can't stop thinking about him and about the possibility for a well-rounded life with him.

I have not told my SA that the new guy has expressed serious interest in me like this. Partly because he doesn't really like hearing about him (and vice versa -- the new guy doesn't really like hearing about my SA very often, and also, I haven't told the new guy that we haven't had sex for years -- but I'm sure he can imagine that, since he has wondered if I am totally committed to my partner or not and I have implied that I am not fulfilled in this relationship and that I maybe could be lured away possibly if the right man came along.

And the new guy is trying to be really sensitive as possible. He has expressed concern that maybe he should not try to get to know me other than as a friend because maybe I am really solid with my current guy and therefore he the new guy, should not be trying to get involved. But I reassured the new guy that he shouldn't stop thinking along those lines at this point since maybe I AM interested -- I also said that in fairness to him (new guy) I do not expect him to wait for me. He just told me he doesn't mind waiting since there is no one else he is interested in anyway. And I know that all his friends realize he is smitten since he makes a lot of public comments about me on social media and how he appreciates my help and so on -- although he makes formal comments in public and makes more personal comments in private, such as compliments.

He comes from a culture where people are quite open about what is going on in their life and tell each other how they feel. When his friends are in the room with him when he calls me, I can hear them kidding him about me. Everyone there knows he is taken with me. He even told me that he had my photo on the home page of his laptop, and because I look quite youthful, someone even told him they thought I was too young for him. We had a good laugh over that. But who knows, I might not find him experienced enough for my liking.

Deep inside, regarding my current guy, I know that since I am still very attracted to him, if he were to actually become sexually active with me again, I might be willing to abandon the thoughts of checking out anyone else. But realistically, I am not sure that he ever will want to be sexual with me again since he hasn't wanted that for so long, no matter how clean I have made his place, or how many wonderful meals I've made for him or how much fun we had over the course of the day. Nothing ever seems to change his complete lack of interest in sex with me -- or wanting to be a part of my sexual happiness. He even turns away from me when we pass each other in the hall, avoiding body contact like you would with a stranger on the bus. My heart always sinks. But I no longer want to try to convince him to want me.

But at the same time, that is a dilemma for me, now that my current partner is getting older and really does need my help around the house and so on. Also I fear that if I left him to fend for himself, he would get even more depressed and I worry that he would lose the will to live. So even though we never married I always considered my end of the relationship seriously and have not ever cheated on him -- I really have lived up to that bit about "in sickness and in health". In his case, it's mainly emotional sickness. But that doesn't stop me from loving him even though I am not completely fulfilled.

But in a way, I feel that the time and energy I put into getting to know this other man is kind of like cheating. It takes my energy and attention away from my SA. And I realize this new friendship makes it impossible for me to forget that I have been wishing to have a normal sexual and romantic relationship ever since that stopped with my current guy. So it puts that in sharp contrast when the new guy says he wants me to be his lady and he has said it many times for the course of the last year and reminded me of what it's like to be desired.

Sure, I have muddled along with having just a platonic relationship with my current guy even though I continue to be attracted to him and frustrated about that, and I have been able to manage -- until now.

The new guy throws a fresh light on everything. I am not used to be desired AND have that combined with real interest in my life, my interests, my background, and all the things that go along with me that he wants to know about. The new guy asks a lot of questions about my interests, my friends, and so on. He is also amazed that I am interested in the humanitarian project he wants to do -- since until now, he has not been able to find anyone who wants to do this project with him. Which, paradoxically, is about female sexual equality and body autonomy, among other important human rights. It's so refreshing, actually, to be getting to know a man who believes in these principles and who wants to help protect people from exploitation.

My partner has been a good help too, by offering advice and insight into why some of these practices continue, so it's been great that he is helping -- and also he provides me internet and computer use, which I wouldn't be able to easily afford on my own. He provides me lots of creature comforts too, buys food, gives me the run of the house a lot of the time, and in turn, I do his laundry, cook for him, give him back rubs, go shopping and the usual things people do in relationships. Almost like a marriage -- but with one important missing ingredient.

So I feel very stuck at this point. Do I just wait and see what happens when I meet the new guy? Do I ignore his interest or discourage it or encourage it? Do I force myself to leave my current partner and just be home and lonely a lot of the time -- but this way I won't feel like I am "cheating" if I actively try to disengage from my partner and start getting to know the new man? Do I tell the new guy that since I am still with my current partner, he will have to forget about any deeper relationship with me as long as my current guy is alive -- and risk losing out on maybe the best thing that might ever happen to me? Honestly none of those options is very satisfactory to me. I don't want to give up a real friendship I have with my current guy -- which is sort of like a marriage of convenience and no commitment requirement either. Either of us could walk away anytime -- but except for no sex, we really do enjoy each other's company and continue our pursuit together as entertainers (although gigs are few and far between at this point) and as good housemates so to speak. We have a lot of camaraderie and many years of relating.

And how do I deal with the guilt I feel when I spend time messaging and talking to the new person? When I have at times asked my current partner if he is worried I might be getting too involved with the other guy, he says that no he isn't -- but I wonder if he is just saying that to please me and not create further tension -- maybe it's his way of just going with the flow, and he thinks it is really okay for me to have this budding friendship. And since we did so much fighting post-d day maybe he doesn't want to go in-depth about what this new friendship really means to me.

Because in truth I haven't really cheated. My current guy knows that I talk and message with the other guy. He just doesn't realize the other guy has said he wants to get to know me and hopes I will be his lady some day. I worry that if I tell my current guy this, he will reject me even further, and then when the new guy comes here, we will discover we're not meant to be anything other than pals, at least not now, and I will have thrown away a two-decade connection for nothing.

So on one hand this is exciting getting to know a new person who seems to be excited about me, and on the other it puts me into an awful position of not wanting to lose anything and missing out -- and not wanting to hurt anyone either. Plus, in the past I always made the mistake of rushing into things and then discovering that that only makes someone take me for granted. If this is real, we can take our time and see what happens. Also there is so much joy in getting to know someone gradually. And this all comes when I am finding getting to a place of real open, honest, and harmonious dialogue with my current guy -- without fighting any more or at least rarely.

I also should say that I am very scared about uncharted territory. I am not used to anyone being thrilled about me, and taking lots of time to contact me just to say hi and all that. It's a little bit overwhelming -- although he always respects my need for space if I want it, and when I am too tired to talk or type I tell him and we get in touch later. There is always an easy flow and he respects my boundaries like that so well. He seems to even be willing to be friends with me even if I don't want or am not ready for an intimate relationship with him. But he tells me that one of his biggest priorities now for coming to my country is to meet me -- beyond all his many worthy ambitions that I think he is very serious about too.

This has been very hard to talk about -- I have been fretting about it for months now and wondering what the moral and ethical thing to do is -- and how to feel happy and at peace inside. At this point I am in such turmoil.

I am thinking of going to a counselor for help -- but in the meantime I am now reaching out and seeing if any of you might have some thoughts or input. thank you so much for just letting me get this off my chest.

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