Thanks Dr. Paige,
That is an answer I've come up with on my own. I'm aware that only I can decide what to do. I'm not actually looking for anyone to make the decision for me. It just seems that my brain literally gets stuck when trying to sort though my feelings.
The new person is not confusing anything. There is no relationship to speak of yet. Just an acquaintance...for now.
How do you judge happiness? I am generally a happy person. I know that I could be content with this girl...I'm struggling with whether or not that is enough. I've been told by the many experts (friends, family) that if I don't know that I want to marry this girl, then that provides the answer.
Maybe the real question I have: am I holding on to this because I don't want to hurt anybody? That has been an issue for me. I put others above myself, and have stayed in relationships longer than I should have because I don't want to hurt anyone. And I know, I ended up hurting them all the same, and it wasn't fair to them or me.
I think I am looking for guidance as to whether or not I have actually made up my mind, and am simply denying it to save myself the pain.
I'm sorry if this all seems disjointed.
As another perspective, I wonder how old you are now? And do you think you're ready for marriage now?
If you're expecting to be head over heels in love so you'll feel it strongly enough to want to go ALL the way, then you can ask yourself if you felt that way at first, and how long ago was that? How long have you been together? Very important, because for many people, if you stay with a person for 2 to 3 years without escalating to marriage, the passionate excitement begins to simmer down, because we're biologically designed to produce a baby by then and then either "move on" (in a polygamous or serially monogamous society like rural Trinidad) or begin the householder years by raising the baby.
Furthermore, your wishful interest in the new woman fulfills the medieval love rule: "New love chases away old love" because of the mystery and uncertainty stimulating your excitement.
If you've been together around 1- year or a little more, then you've probably found out some ways you don't fit as perfectly as you once thought, and possibly some ways you irritate each other. And she doesn't seem like your ideal woman anymore--because no real woman can ever seem that ideal for too long.
And instead of just thinking about whether you love her enough, think about what you'll be doing 5, 10 and 20 years from now, and what you think she'll be doing--do those projected life directions match pretty well?
Were there any other ways she has disappointed your hopes for your mate besides not wanting children at first? Do you think she'll be a good enough mother now, or that you might have to be more engaged (in time) with your kid(s) than you want?
That's some more questions to consider. And if you do ask for a sabbatical-separation to find out if you miss her and that makes your love grow stronger--then don't test out the other woman unless you want to risk hurting both of them, and messing up your future relations with both also.
You're very clear-sighted to realize that maybe you just never want to hurt anybody, so you can't make a choice that would hurt. But not choosing IS already hurting both of you.
OOOh! Something else just hit me! You know that she wants you to marry her, so now you're guilty if you don't marry her, but you're also NOT choosing to marry her because YOU want to, but because you aren't allowed to HURT her, by your own rules, that is. So you can't be true to your own feelings if you choose to marry her, because your guilt is preventing you from the enthusiasm you might otherwise feel. Your unwillingness to hurt anybody (did you grow up in a family in which "we mustn't hurt (Mother)(Disappoint Father)(etc)"? Is a dark cloud that keeps you from feeling your feelings.
I gotta go to bed. Ponder that and write back, if you want to--otherwise go ahead and agree with Dr. Paige and don't worry about all my additions. I think your "Hippocratic oath" is messing up your feelings.
If you can figure out WHOSE feelings you MUST NOT hurt (by your own, or by family rules) , write that person's (or those persons') name(s) down. Then write a letter to each one in which you list everything you've ever done that could hurt or disappoint them (or reap their disapproval) if they knew about it. Then go on and add some other things Much Worse that you could imagine doing, if you really Didn't Care about their reaction--go ahead and BE MEAN.
(You're not going to do any of those brand new meaner things, and you're not going to send any letter to anybody. But if you really take the time to immerse yourself in reversing your imaginary rules that you can't hurt (X, Y or Z), you just might set yourself free--a little bit at least.)
Then some time after that (at least after sleeping alone afterwards for a night or two) see if you can feel a little bit more of your full pallette of feelings for your girlfriend. Let me know if you do that (but not anything you wrote).
Thank-you Dr. Brown,
I'm 36 years old. We have been together for 3 years. Yes, I realize that the euphoria of new love fades, and that is not my issue.
I think you are far closer to the mark by asking about my childhood. I grew up with great parents, who are still together, and a highly rebellious brother. There was constant stress in the house due his various hijinx, and my job growing up was to moderate that tension by doing as little wrong, and not causing any additional stress to anybody.
So, it was a self inflicted set of rules, that I still struggle with.
This relationship I'm in now, seems simlar to the one I was before. I think I knew they were not right for me, early on.
So, to address some of your questions about this relationship - was there more than just the children issue? Of course there was. I think I was using the children as the deal breaker, because that provided me a clear, no fault way to end it.
We certainly had a torrid love affair for about 3 months. After that, severely negative elements began to emerge. She revealed that she broke off her engagement to someone else 1 month before we met.
She suffers from a high level of anxiety. Our life goals are slightly different. Our lifestyles are quite different. She did participate in activities with my family. Her and my mother do not get along. Her and my sister in law do not get along. She does not know any of my friends.
And of course, she is unclear about whether or not she wants to have kids.
I often feel like getting married is just on her list, and I fit the criteria of what is acceptable for her husband. Pretty morose, I know.
Do you understand what I suggested about "practicing hurting-or-makingwaves 4 mother & father" by writing about what you've done (without telling them, perhaps) and could do that would break your self-imposed rule would exercise your "can't make serious choices without unacceptable guilt" muscles so you CAN break up with the present girlfriend?
I also stayed in 3 relationships for around 3 years each in my thirties, even though I knew in 2 cases & was blinded by passion in the 3rd (middle one) within the first 6-12 months that they weren't right for me. The last one went until age 41, and I didn't break it because it was comfortable. I knew I wouldn't marry her unless she became more like the kind of woman I was looking for (looks weren't involved), but it wasn't until I saw my 42nd year half over, when an astrologer had predicted 9 years earlier that I would "meet my soul-mate," that I pressured her increasingly to go to couples therapy with me (I was already a therapist myself), so I could establish a concrete experience of incapacity to fit my needs and justify breaking up. And that worked, and 2 wks later I met a woman who was probably what I wanted (serious-artistic eager-2-become psychotherapist, astrologer, also ready to mate for life via the same astrological progressed moon as I was--tho I didn't understand that prediction until she showed it to me). Now we've been struggling soulmates for 28 years. And SHE WOULDN'T LET ME enjoy the fruits of romance for 3 years before marriage, insisting I'd only get a several month free trial-marriage before I had to plunk my money where my mouth was. She knew about passion what I didn't learn until I studied my own relationship history and then discovered the evidence about passion & divorce when was writing my textbook on relationships around 10 yrs later.
It hasn't occurred to me that I also held on to the 1st & 3rd of those ~3yr fizzles because I wouldn't willingly choose to hurt a woman, since our family rule for the 3 males was "we mustn't hurt mother--cuz she does so much for us." [The 2nd one seduced me away from the 1st and dumped me and re-united so many times that I was too busy holding on to realize how BAD for me she was: Our theme song was "Reunited cuz it feels so good." (aka "Brinksmanship" and "Love-Trap.")
So study your history of love relationships and you might get quite useful insights. And ponder this too: Which was your "first great love?" And to what extent is that still the one whose original positive romantic phase sticks in the back of your mind as the way it's sorta supposed to be--even if it ended badly and you're now sure you wouldn't want it back anyway. It was studying my patterned history both before and after my 3rd fizzler (all of which were AFTER my 8-9yr "first great love") that led me to insights that I acted on to get the woman I married. [And go-figure, astrological progression predicted when that would be! So who's incharge here, my striving self-development or fate?]
I have studied my past relationships. I wrote them down, the reasons why I can remember them ending, how I felt during etc.
I have also looked closely at my last 3 relationships, all of which should have ended much sooner than they did.
I have used the "write it down" method previously, and I do find it effective.
This relationship I have tried to end 3 times previously, but I keep getting talked back into it. It is frustrating beyond reason.
It is very upsetting now, because the new girl, who has been an acquaintance of mine for some time, has now expressed interest, and I am not in a position to act on it. She has never asked about my relationship status, and I have never volunteered it, largely because there was no need to. Now I'm faced with the quandry on whether or not to tell her, or just keep the relationship casual until I have had enough time to get over this break up.
Between 1 and 2 was almost a year. Between 2 and 3 was shorter - about 3 months, but I felt fully checked out many months before it ended.I certainly never knew there were 13 types of intimacy. I will explore that list, and see where it gets me.
All I can say is holy crap! Low hanging fruit? Only going for women that have already given ample signals, or to use your vernacular the green light? That's me to a tee. Very enlightening!!
I see now that it is no coincidence all three of my last girlfriends asked me out, and pushed the relationship forward. I sort of just went along for the ride.