DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have been in a long distance relationship with my current girlfriend for about a year and it’s my first serious relationship (not hers). Pretty much everything was great for the first few months and even though we had difficulties with the long distance, we managed to make it work and generally had a good time.
Lately it feels like the “new relationship energy”, at least in the physical aspect, has gone from our relationship. Previously, we would pretty much have sex like rabbits every time we saw each other. Nowadays the frequency has dropped to maybe 2-3 times when we get to see each other for a week/long weekend after being apart for a month or so.
I understand that this is natural in a relationship and that people’s libidos can vary greatly over time but I can’t help feeling frustrated. After a few weeks of not seeing her, the first thing I want to do is tear her clothes off and that just doesn’t seem to be a priority for her anymore.
We’ve talked about this and she seems to understand where I’m coming from but says that she doesn’t feel like it if she feels pressured to just have more sex. I get what she means because I tend to show my frustrations fairly clearly. She also feels that it’s natural for sex to ebb and flow but I feel like she isn’t taking into account the long distance nature of the relationship. We have basically agreed to work on me not pressuring her so much and her trying to improve the frequency,
The problem is that she has a tendency to discuss issues in our relationship, come to an agreement and never act on them. I understand what I have to do and try and make an effort to do so but sometimes it feels like she does not. Additionally, talking to her about any issue in the relationship is like pulling teeth. She’ll shut down with anger and just not talk about the problem for days and leave it unresolved until it inevitably comes up again. Everything else with her is great, to the point that I have seriously considered settling down with her and I really wish I didn’t feel like this. Sometimes it makes me wonder if this long distance is worth it and if I should just call it quits. What should I do?
Just One Thing
DEAR JUST ONE THING: I’m sympathetic, JOT; long distance is tough to manage, especially when it’s your first relationship. But I think it’s your inexperience that’s cutting you off at the knees here. You’re running into a problem that lots of people have in their early relationships – especially long-distance ones: you’re kinda taking the sex for granted.
When you’re in your first serious relationship, for a lot of people it’s like going from a famine to a feast. You’ve gone from no sex – or very limited sexual activity – to suddenly having it all. And in those heady, early days when everything is amazing it’s very easy to get lost in the idea that now sex is going to be on tap, 24-7. This is especially true when you’re in a long-distance relationship and you only see each other so many times per year. There’s this understandable desire to get in all the sexin’ you can because there’s going to be this long dry spell in between.
Problem is, when the honeymoon period starts to end and the new relationship energy starts to fade, priorities tend to change. The ways and whys you have sex change. Yes, the passion tapers off, as it does in all relationships, but this comes with a greater emphasis on the other parts of your relationship – the intimacy and the nurturing and the companionship. It’s not just about being a couple of horny greased weasels, it’s about sharing that connection between the two of you. But when she comes to visit and the first thing you want to do is rip her clothes off? It kind of makes her feel like that’s all you want. There’s a lot to be said for being wanted, but it’s very easy to turn “being wanted” into “feeling like a Fleshlight with a pulse”.
So I suspect that the problem is less that your girlfriend doesn’t want as much sex – although that could well be part of it – as much of feeling like most of what you miss is getting laid on the regular. And if you’re getting notably frustrated because you’re not balls-deep as soon as you’re off the plane… well, that’s going to turn her off even further. That’s going to make her feel incredibly pressured to put out regardless of her feelings on the matter, which is a huge turn off.
That is what makes me wonder whether your problems discussing your relationship issues stems from her feeling pressured to f
k constantly. If she feels like most of the relationship is going to be about how much you’re f
king and if you’re going to be pouting until then, then there’s not exactly much incentive to work on everything else. After all, why bang you head against another wall?
My advice is that you start with getting the way you treat sex under control. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with having a high sex drive or wanting it every day and twice on Sundays. It’s how you’re treating your partner that’s the problem. So try to put some emphasis on practicing gratitude, rather than entitlement. Appreciate everything about having her there with you – the companionship, the cuddling, the little jokes – as well as the idea that you’re gonna get some. The more you can show how you love all of her, without making her feel pressured or venting your frustrations at her, the happier you’ll both be.
Once you have that sorted… see how the rest shapes up. That’ll give you a better idea as to whether this relationship can go the distance.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a straight woman and long-time lurker with an issue with my boyfriend. I have been in my current relationship for three years come April. We have been through some very hard times but have been making it work. Or at least I thought so, until evidence of him sexting another woman was presented to me. This doesn’t look to be an isolated case of weakness and stress, although he says it was. In fact, the <sarcasm> wonderful woman </sarcasm> conveniently provided screen shots the week before he proposed to me, a couple weeks after, and again several months afterwards. It was, to the best of my knowledge, only virtual and nothing physical.
I like to think that I am very understanding and supportive. I completely understand that sometimes you need release without the work that sex can be and have made it clear from the beginning I have no problem with porn. We live in the same house. I do a majority of the chores, pay for a majority of the living expenses, and have been working hard to support him. I know he has a lot going on and is very stressed. While this hasn’t been physical, it still feels like cheating to me. It has gone from passively watching, and has actively pursuing. And it still was a choice he made, multiple times, to betray my trust.
As I am writing this, it is still a fresh wound. I do dearly love him. And, even though my heart still feels shattered, I want the best for him. He has been supportive of me in the past, seen me through some very difficult times, and has become a central part of my life. This seems to indicate what’s best for him would be to have the freedom to find happiness. We have talked at length at this, and he insists he wants to try and make this right.
Are we, or I, chasing a false dream?
Lost and Wounded
DEAR LOST AND WOUNDED: I kind of wonder what the other woman was hoping for when she decided to give you the dirty details. Was she hoping to break the two of you up so she could take things from the virtual into the physical? Did she just get her jollies from letting you know that she’s had her claws in your man? Did she have pangs of conscience and decided you needed to know everything?
Not that it ultimately matters. That’s just the rotten topping on the infidelity sundae. This is between you and your fiancee.
If you’ve been a long-time lurker, then you know my feelings on monogamy are nuanced, to say the least. Making a monogamous commitment doesn’t mean that you don’t want to sleep with other people, it just means you’ve promised NOT to. Men and women both will have the urge for novelty and new partners and find themselves having crushes and attractions to people who aren’t their one-and-only’s. And the rush of a naughty secret and being desired by somebody new can be intoxicating.
I also tend to believe that not all infidelities are equal. Someone using Tinder for flirty texting isn’t, to my mind, the same as having a regular fling with the neighbor. In some ways, it’s akin to using a cam site instead of just watching porn.
I say all of this not to devalue how you feel, but just to establish where I tend to come from on matters like these. So with that being said: no, I don’t think “giving him his freedom” is necessary. While his behavior has been bad – no question there – I don’t think this rises to the level of a relationship extinction level event… yet.
Don’t get me wrong: you have very legitimate reasons to be hurt and upset. The pain you’re feeling is very real and very valid. Your fiancee has hurt you through his actions. But I also think that this is something that you two can recover from, if you two want to make the effort. The question is, what is he willing to do to fix things and earn your trust back? He’s going to have to be going above and beyond – not only cutting ties with his virtual paramour but being willing to be the one to maintain the boundaries in your relationship. Will he be willing to show you proof that he’s on the up and up? Will he be able to give full transparency so you never need to wonder where things stand now? Can he show you just how much you mean to him – not just now while the wound is fresh, but over time?
And, just as importantly, are you going to be able to trust him again?
That second part is pretty important. If he’s willing to show you that yes, he’s going out of his way to be trustworthy again, are you going to be able to believe him? Or has this been such a grievous wound that you’ll always have that splinter of doubt digging away at your soul, leaving a canker on your relationship with him?
I think that, IF you both want it AND he’s going to put a good-faith effort in, your relationship can survive this. Your old relationship may be over, but a new one can begin in it’s place, if you want it. If he truly wants to make this right and you truly want to let him… then I think it’s worth the risk.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)