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The dangers of relationship gurus

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Guys, do NOT listen to relationship gurus.  Listen only to the wisdom of your heart.  I have a story to illustrate this.

I (34M) was 22 when I read Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled" (a long time ago). Peck writes that true love begins when your feelings for your partner have faded away. According to him, love is not a feeling, but a commitment, it is made up of daily, disciplined sacrifices. This sounded so profound.

Fast forward to 2020. I match with this girl (28F) on Tinder - my first Tinder match in this new city I'd moved to. Let's call her Kacey. Kacey and I met up at a local pub, drank a few Old Fashioned cocktails, and started dating casually. I liked her. She was clumsy, but nice. Her sexual skills were impressive. She was the only woman to show genuine burning desire for me in a long time. I was thrilled. However, as I was getting to know her, I was realizing what a train wreck she was. Turns out she had recently been released from a psychiatric hospital. Had changed her legal name so as to avoid being tracked by some crazy ex. She told me how, as a teenager, during a party, she had been drugged and raped and had been suffering regular anal bleeding ever since, even decades later. PTSD panic attacks would wake her up in the middle of the night. She had the rough face that comes from a rough life, too. Looked 10 years older than her actual age. Perhaps because of all this, I never really fell "in love". Zero butterflies. My coworkers would ask me "how is she?" I'd be like "meh, she's all right. She's OK. She's good enough." To be honest, my only feelings for her were of compassion, not romance. Back in those days, I was deep into buddhism and practicing compassion and being non-judgmental. I actually worked as a nurse aid at the hospital. I would remember Scott Peck's book and think to myself "what does it matter if I don't feel feelings for her? Let us be mature. Love is not a feeling. It is a decision." So I took a decision to be with this woman. We agreed to become exclusive. We moved in together.

From there, things went embarrassingly sour. First week after our move, she told me she wanted to live as a man. She took up a testosterone treatment, withheld sex, and became overall disagreable. She gave me weeks-long silent treatments. A puberty beard appeared on her chin. She stood against all my political views. Because of this, and because of many other things that would be too long to tell you about, I grew hurt, disgusted, exhausted, and disillusioned. Boy, was I reconsidering my decisions! Was I going to give up 100% of all other romantic opportunities for THIS jackass? Was I ready to spend the REST OF MY DAYS in this prison? All for the sake of "true love"?

I gave up. We broke up. I moved out, and tried to move on.

That was two years ago.  Kacey has never moved on. After some time, she reached back. Being lonely, I surrendered. What was supposed to be a platonic walk at the parc ended in two-hour tantric sex session. The next week, she came back, and the next week, and so on.  It was as if we were back together.  Except we weren't. One day she said "Jacques, I want a serious relationship" but I told her I never want that again with her. She acted all surprised.  She cried, yet, the next week, she was back at my door. She kept stupidly coming back. And even though I kept repeating I DO NOT want a serious relationship with her, I stupidly carried on doing unholy things with her. Guys, if a woman loves you, but you don't love her, do not get naked with her, it only messes her up. It makes her think you love her. No matter how many times you tell her it's casual, in her head, she has that wedding dress on. "There is no such thing as casual sex".

I've had enough with this "casual" tragedy. This is not healthy. How long will she be heart-broken? We are both scarred for life as a result of this romantic fiasco. And the reason this all happened, is because I once read in some book that love somehow shouldn't be based on feelings.

My friends, when looking for a long-term partner, don't just pick the first person who looks OK and think you can somehow "work things out" with sheer discipline. It's OK to have standards.  You are not immature.  So listen to your heart, and take the time to search for someone you actually admire and look up to. Somebody you would feel honored to have by your side. It might not be as quick or easy to find, but that kind of love will be strong and is much more likely to stand the test of time.

Edited by JacquesCarpenter
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Dr. Peck is not a Guru. He is a Psychiatrist. He graduated from Harvard and half his career was in the army as Chief of different Psychiatric departments and then in the private sector. I don't think you understood the book at all. 

I am glad you have learn a life lesson after dating this girl so now you are better equipped to make better choices for yourself. 

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OP, thank you for sharing the story. I fully agree with you that without the initial “butterflies”, without passion, there can be no true love, and that romantic relationships initiated out of compassion rather than passion are doomed.

I do think, however, that you might have misunderstood the message of the book somewhat. The author’s point isn’t that you should start relationships with someone you aren’t in love with. His point is that true love is tested when initial sexual attraction subsides, and a deep spiritual bond and a sense of commitment are absolutely essential.

Also, I think the problem in your example wasn’t the casual sex per se, but rather the discrepancies between your wishes and the wishes of the woman you mention.

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What you described has nothing to do with what Scott Peck wrote about in "The Road Less Travelled" or Buddhism either.   

You just went for "low hanging fruit" and it does not reflect well on you that you have only her deficits to remember her by, except that she was good at sex.   

Nobody with a modicum of emotional intelligence would advise a person to embark on a relationship with a person they felt like you did about her.  

The LOVE that Dr. Peck talks about which comes after the butterflies and sometimes without butterflies is transcendent and in a whole different world than the butterflies are, though those are lovely and a wonderful launching place  

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mark clemson

The world is full of people, well-intentioned or sometimes otherwise giving advice. Some have no business giving it, others probably are OK - BUT you need to remember that people simply aren't all the same. One person/couple's "love" will often genuinely not be the same as another's. So these experts are speaking from their beliefs and/or experiences, sometimes not realizing that the things that help one person/couple feel love or at least be in a contented relationship simply might not work for someone else.

There are those who value "companionship" over "love," others who insist on polyamory, some who want primarily a "looks good from the outside" financial arrangement, others who insist on a "deep" emotional connection, some who want a relationship that's "at arm's length" (but still want one) e.g. the Living Apart Together crowd, etc, etc, etc.

So you've got to take any/all of this sort of advice, from whomever including "trusted authorities," with a BIG grain of salt, and see whether it actually makes sense for YOU and what you want/how you experience things.

When I read your post it strikes me as characteristic of a high-intensity relationship that is (likely) TOO high intensity to stand the test of time. And lo and behold it isn't (for you). Although you haven't given lots of details about this GF and her issues, I would also note that there are likely plenty of men in this world who would feel a reasonably attractive women who wants to be with them long term and is great in bed is - if not love, "close enough for them" and might stick with her. But that's not you, and so it goes.

Edited by mark clemson
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