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Am I being noble or foolish?

Friends and Lovers Progressing into "Friends with benefits" and beyond: When platonic relationships become more intimate.

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Old 25th February 2019, 9:04 AM   #16
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It's all quite true, I couldn't be see myself happy with such a flirt. And thanks, I appreciate that.

As for what's missing in my current relationship, he ticks all the boxes of intelligence, responsibility, and work ethic but has openly stated I'm not his priority while in school ( for the last 5 years and potentially 4 more for his phd). We bicker a lot when stressed, and have almost no overlap in hobbies/ interests other than chilling while trashtalking tv. He's without any zeal for new experiences, without curiosity beyond his very specific career aspirations, which is fair because I respect his ambition but it's not easy to relate to him. We've never travelled due to time/money, but after he cheated on literally the only overnight trip I took alone, I'm still afraid to travel without him. Conversations die out quickly without tv and he's not really as playful/improvisational in conversation as the crush. I guess having deep and varied discussions is a major component of attraction that I'm only recently discovering.

He can lack empathy and has been emotionally abusive (being vindictive then telling me I'm overreacting while I'm in tears). He took 3 years to read the one post-infidelity book I asked him to, because he said he knew he'd never do it again, but I needed him to understand the devastation from an objective source. He always requires me to justify my feelings and my thoughts as though he is default more correct or knowledgeable and it makes me exhausted, he's stuck in competitive academic mode. I have felt minimized and ignored at times.

The last year or two have really improved though. He still checks in to make sure I'm ok, he apologizes, we've gotten way better at being patient and respectful in heated moments. The intimacy is great, and we still have a similar sense of humor and generally want the same longterm lifestyle (once he graduates). He's even started being more thoughtful and supportive, but then brags about how little time he invests into some small gesture or how cheap the flowers etc were as though to remind me where I stand.

To be honest, we may both be high functioning spectrum so I've tried my best to give him the benefit of the doubt that with time and patient reminders, there's been a lot of progress. My childhood was an abusive nightmare so I've normalized a lot of unhealthy behavior and have to constantly question if my expectations are reasonable, and my part in the codependency that we have slipped into in rough patches.

He's my first serious relationship and my first love, and it's almost 7 years now. Really the first time anyone in my life was a source of him cheating was devastating because I did want to spend my life with him. I was so heartbroken and felt so badly about myself that I couldn't leave without trying to fix things (i loved him more than i loved myself), and he always seems to change just enough to keep me more optmistic. I'm truthfully paralyzed by the fear of letting myself love him fully again or leaving. How does anyone make such a life-altering choice? I'm an indecisive, anxious, and introverted person and this is probably the hardest decision I've been faced with.

My crush was a mirage in a desert of self-loathing, maybe I just liked how he made me feel about myself more than anything. He validated me more than my partner and has more in common in terms of truly appreciating the same passions in life.

Thanks again everyone for being honest and bringing clarity to a muddled perception.

Last edited by Moraldilemna; 25th February 2019 at 9:26 AM..
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Old 25th February 2019, 11:41 AM   #17
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You seem to have a lot of self-awareness. I think you'll do fine either way (stay or go).

Originally Posted by Moraldilemna View Post
My crush was a mirage in a desert of self-loathing, maybe I just liked how he made me feel about myself more than anything. He validated me more than my partner and has more in common in terms of truly appreciating the same passions in life.
Yes, flirting and the much less common EA are all about mutual validation generally. They're like that for everyone I think. No need to feel bad about yourself...
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Old 25th February 2019, 4:04 PM   #18
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Thanks so much, that's kind of you.

The crush tried to touch my hand and I dodged it, then he touched my shoulder and seemed like he was working up to addressing it, then someone else walked into the room. I didn't flirt back and definitely kept my cool, but he's as confusing as ever. Avoidance without verbally explaining why seems super difficult since it's just an unspoken expectation that we have lunch together.

I must say I slept a lot sounder once I decided to close the chapter emotionally. One day at a time I guess lol
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Old 25th February 2019, 4:27 PM   #19
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I think most of us have been there. Nice people give the benefit of the doubt. Then when they get a crush, they bend over backwards rationalizing and justifying bad behavior, even at times blaming themselves for someone else's bad behavior. So don't be hard on yourself. I'm like you, I get a crush and hang on like a dog with a bone -- for years. It's not rational, but it is human. It's important to realize two things:

One is that that love you feel is really coming from inside you, not coming from him. That's why so many people can feel intense love for people who don't even like them back or are terrible people. They give them love and don't, like you say, pay attention to boundaries and red flags. The only good news is you don't lose your love; you get to take it with you when you withdraw it from that person and give it to whoever you want the next time.

The other thing is so obvious, but it's not being able to see the forest for the trees. I think that's part of what this forum is for, which is you get a fresh perspective untainted by "but I love him" type stuff. And basically, that's step back and set emotions aside for a moment and set aside your hopes or what you hoped he might do and just look at what he has done and what he does. Just call it "It is what it is." What he is, is generally flirtatious and doing it likely behind his fiance's back. So that's who he is. That's why I said that. You can rationalize, and a lot of other women do, Oh, he's not really happy with her, they're not meant to be together, we are, and he will change -- but that is Disney fiction. He is that person. It's hard to see if for our own emotions and every little thing that has gone on, but those are his actions.

What does he get out of it? Probably validation. You know, that's why Tiger Woods cheated on his near-perfect specimen of a wife and mother. He's propping himself up. Guys like that can be fun, but they often hurt people too. We had one in my old crowd. Two of my younger girlfriends were hung up on him. There were all kinds of red flags. I never even told them he propositioned me too and flirted with me too. It should have been obvious he was like that with so many people.

Anyway, hope your situation with your current man works out. It's great that he is reforming himself. Of course, if after all that, you still aren't happy with him, at least he'll be in a better position to move to the next relationship than before, right?
"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not better for it." -- Abraham Lincoln
"The greatness of a nation & its moral progress can be judged by the way in its animals are treated." -Gandhi
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Old 25th February 2019, 5:10 PM   #20
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A little naive in my opinion. Ever since you started having lunch one on one with taken man every day you crossed a line... Iím sure deep inside you knew itís inapp ... now youíre dealing with the aftermath.
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Old 25th February 2019, 10:21 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Moraldilemna View Post
He always requires me to justify my feelings and my thoughts as though he is default more correct or knowledgeable and it makes me exhausted, he's stuck in competitive academic mode. I have felt minimized and ignored at times.

He's even started being more thoughtful and supportive, but then brags about how little time he invests into some small gesture or how cheap the flowers etc were as though to remind me where I stand.

Are you sure this is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with? He sounds terrible, tbh! I'm not one to idealize life, I've gone through a lot myself, but it's never worth it to be with someone who doesn't hold you to the highest level of importance. I'm not talking about being obsessed, disregarding friends/family members' feelings to please the SO, but truth is, you should be almost as, or as, important as his parents/siblings are to him, and definitely should be prioritized before his friends. It's nice to be ambitious, but without the respect what are you going to get out of that ambition?

I think you seriously should re-evaluate this relationship. Your EA at work is a symptom of your subconscious doubt of the relationship. I firmly believe that any age, it's better to be alone, than to be with someone who wants to "remind you where you stand".
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Old 26th February 2019, 8:24 AM   #22
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hey moral dialemma, I have only read your fist reply since you replied and maybe I should have read everything that went inbetween that from yourself and the other posters, but I haven't and I think what you have posted there actually sounds like someone who actually is honest and decent enough to try to want to do the right thing now.

done knock yourself around with feelings on this matter, if you want a fresh start then that is possible.

but I cant help wondering whether your current relationship is giving you all you need in the self esteem department? (of course only you know that), but from what you've said already your partner really still needs to step up some!

the values you speak about about your current relationship being different are huge in difference and I wonder whether some of them are erally ever going to change?, there are so many single people out there one of which might be a better bet than what you've got.

if it were me, and I don't know all the facts and what has gone on and I am aware of that totally, but if it were me i would want to be sure i was with the right person. i would call time and have a break with this person i was with and take myself off somewhere with friends or on my own or go see people that know me real well for a day, weekend few hours if needed and talk about everything and what i feel. i would want to be out of the situation completely and see if my partner missed me enough to enable us to talk and go forward.

its esay to talk of what is happening now, but where do you want to be in 5 years 10 years 20 years with this man, where do you want to be in life, do you have children do you want children can you have children are you both ok with this can you afford them "properly" in a realistic way, how does that affect things....there are a billion questions that bei g with the one throw up and from what i see (and it is only a small bit of it i know) but if the differences are fundamentally incompatible, then what happens when you hit the more serious stuff/ is he going to stand by you and be supportive and be capable of doing the right thing?

ok, so now i have read more about what you have said, because i think you are serious in what you want out of your posts and i appreciate that you have got back to folks in your genuine desire to sort things out, i admire that, so put your honesty and sincertity into your box of insecurities and shake it up a little, im sure you have a lot more esteem than you give yourself the credit of actually having. and i think one thing about esteem is that if you are with the right people in life , good trusted friends that care, new people that come into your life as friends for a short while, family members you can open up to and often online folks that chime with your thoughts as and when....then one thing that they all have in common is that in the end they want your esteem to be on a level playing field with theirs and they want what is good for you and are talking acting in a way that you can see that for yourself or it comes/grows in you. im not sure what levels of self esteem your partner brings, but i still don't know whether he is enough for you.

so i would take a break, a week, 2 weeks a month till the summer whatever and see how you grow, see how you cope see how you can get out and about with friends or meet new people and see how much fun has been cut off from you.

the way you are (i mean you as in the way we all are is important to who we really are) you like fun, impulsiveness at times, adventure and i think the crush offers you a window in the kind of person i think you would be better suited with (BUT THEY NEED TO BE SINGLE, THEY NEED TO LIKE AND RESPECT YOU AND LOVE YOU AND THEY NEED TO BE COMPATIBLE AND WILLING TO GIVE AS WELL AS TAKE FROM YOU AND GIVE TO YOU AND GIVE THINGS THAT ACTUALLY MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU!)

i think your current partner sounds a bit dogged by what is expected of a relationship and is following your life and his like some kind of textbook!!!!! intelligence isn't all that is needed for a relationship, where is the maturity and capability, im not seeing this from either of the men that have crossed your path.

i think the fact that this guy was your first serious relationship has a lot to do with it, and ive said it before there are not that many people in life that meet someone first time and that's it,some do and that's great for them, but i think this crush has show you that there are other types of men out there and i think had this man been single and aviailable, the crush,,,,you would have gone with him and there would be no moral dialemma for us to look at!!!

also there are no guarantees of success or employment with a phd, and even if there is, you are bickering already in his study phase, if he gets some high flying job once qualified then he is also going to say i have a new job i cant let so and so down, i have a new job i need to research ..... i need to spend time with ............and .................. i must travel for work...

im not sure his goals are really compatible with you, i don't know but you sound as though some of your values are on a deeper level maybe spiritual? either way the point is that you are with someone who isn't giving you the potential to really be you you don't sound like someone who lets your soul and spirit sound like trash talk in front of a tv is getting you down, you sound like you miss him you sound like you are and have invested so much of yourself and your time into trying to make things work, explaining how someone cheating has hurt you!!!! going along with others due to some kind of expected sense of care for them...but thankfully it also sounds like you are for the first time seeing and wondering whether this is enough for you.

i don't think it is!!!!!!

but maybe you need to test it for yourself.

if you have time away, separate for a while and see what your hear is telling you, i think you will get more of the answers to this dialemma.

you have made a good start by kicking this romeo to the kerb. keep strong in that, your flirting will have been noticed at work and you don't want to spoil your reputation there as that will also damage your self esteem bit by bit and by association.

now you need to work on what a healthy relationship means, you cant change others if they are not like that or are not willing to try for themselves. if someone prefers a gentle, ambient lifestyle and all things quiet, then you are unlikely to make them want to permenantly live it up, start jumping from cliffs and looking to extreme sports...ok, that is an extreme example that isn't as simple as a situation like that might be..but you know what i am saying here.

so there you have it, that's my 2 cents for now! sound genuine in your intentions so don't go in this with small measures, you sound like you are ready to move forward (maybe with him, maybe spread your wings and learn to fly again)....but start working on yourself and the things you like that will build your esteem, get a hair cut? get fitter if your not, go walking in the sunshine, take in and enjoy the coming spring (if its spring where you are in the world) treat yourself, talk to old friends, good friends, enjoy the music.old times occasionally that you used to like, basically do anything that makes you happy, and see if you can cope, how it makes you feel to be doing fun stuff without him.

i think you will do just fine, you just have to believe it and start putting yourself kindly and first for once.

spring is about the new, new beginnings and fresh green growth!!!!!

so use it to engage with the old you the happier you, because it is still there waiting to shine again....its just you have relied on others and looked solely to them for finding happiness...when the truth is that they cannot give it to you, because they were too busy taking things for their own esteem!!!!!

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Old 26th February 2019, 1:21 PM   #23
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Thanks preraph I really appreciate you kind and thoughtful reply. You've made me feel less foolish and perhaps more forgiving of my part in all this. I definitely need more objectivity, I'm too romantic and idealistic and I definitely put my loves upon the highest pedestal.

Yup I was definitely naive viva, both partners know about the friendship and lunches, she even calls sometimes to chat while we're eating and I tell my partner everything we discussed, even the flirty stuff.

Niji, I'm not sure. I'm definitely still weighing on whether to find someone to start fresh with or allow my partner another chance. He really has been trying lately and it's kind of sweet, but maybe I'm just used to crumbs.

Maxi thanks so much for the vote of confidence, I really do aim to be a good person and this has affected my perception of relationships quite a lot. My current relationship probably isn't what I fully need but the love is still there. My partner has supported me through some difficult experiences but honestly there has always been an undertone or overt mention of resenting that emotional "burden". I cherish opportunities to uplift, suprise and support my partner, someone who acts mostly apathetic or like these things are a chore has really squashed my natural desire to express my affection in many ways. I've had to scale back just to retain some dignity and even then I'd never be able to match his level of detachment. He doesn't really have any friends that he sees outside of class and he definitely gives more of himself and his time to me than anyone other than himself. I think he's just not sentimental, and so frugal/practical that the frivolity of my infp personality is almost opposite to his hyperstructured istj. I think once I've gotten over this crush, I'll probably start the breakup process. It would be too much to lose my best friend, the person I'm in love with, and the person I love all at once. I'd have to get at least 2 new cats to fill the affection void haha
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Old 26th February 2019, 3:35 PM   #24
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It would be just your luck you'd get one of those fussy cats who ignores you! Hah.
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Old 26th February 2019, 5:11 PM   #25
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Hahaha exactly, the universe loves irony
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Old 26th February 2019, 5:16 PM   #26
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Dogs always love you. Cats are fun, but dogs are pure love.
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Old 2nd March 2019, 11:43 PM   #27
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moral dialemma, good to hear that you are going to sort things out for yourself. 2 cats!!! no, I wouldn't bother!!!! that means 2 litter trays! haha.. and isn't that's what you had emotionally with theses dudes anyway before.

if you have good friends and or family support, hobbies surrounding you then why not separate for a while and trial to see how things are. if you are low for the crush, then you may as well get the low feelings in more control. if you separate you will have a bit more thinking time.

I still don't see that this guy is the one for you, you are putting in all the work and for something that you sound is ok. if there is love with some one you just know it, its fun, you don't have to keep trying to adjust or be yourself or be attentive or whatever, you just are you and they are them and if it needs for you to talk it over then that's what you do, but its not over the sort of stuff that you have gone through.

you have come a long way from all of the abuse and self esteem lowering and I think that has affected you. so at least if you separate it will give you a chance to see what you are really made of and give him the message clearly that you are not going to be messed around again, it will let him know that you are finding your inner strength again and if he is serious about you he will agree to separate. if he tries to stop you then that is not about someone that really wants to sort things out with you. its about someone that has had a lucky escape and is frightened that you are getting strong enough to want to evaluate your relationship together.

if it is meant to be then a few weeks apart isn't going to break anything you have if what you have together is real love.

I think you deserve time to just be without men and think on your own two feet and talk your feelings out with people who have no intimate (not nessesarilly sexual) but intimate - interest in you particularly when you are emotionally vunerable or low as your partner currently will have an interest for you to stay and for him to promise or try etc....

if you have an agreed amount of time away you will have to think for yourself and you may surprise yourself after a week or two just how much what you are in now is just a habit that is (or sounds for the sake of it, rather than sounds like a person who deserves to be in love with somone special after all you've been thorugh.

I think part of the problem is that you don't know anymore (or have forgotten) what value is. you are also allowed to be valued and to value yourself. and if you separate you will get a chance to rediscover your true values without the clouded vision or partner that is happy to just keep things going the way they are.

maybe you both fear being single for a while, but a secure relationship or a secure mature friendship means being comfortable with walking in your own space, sometimes alone and just being comfortable in things, rather than being told all the time.

I think it would really do you good to clear your thougths for a few weeks and just live and be with friends and family etc.

I think this guy is taking you for granted and you are allowing it to be that way because your estemm doesn't expect anything more, however, the reason you have written in about that in the first place is that someone else has shown you that your relationship (if he was free) could be so much more what would help you heal and repair your esteem and get stronger and a bit more self control and give you more of a voice and space to think and get more comfortable with the little voice in you that has been clearly unhappy, and treated pretty poorly by the guys you cared about over and over again.

not all guys are going to treat you badly, but I think time away will help you get stronger and develop stronger values and that will allow your attitude and outer self to feel and act genuinely stronger and that will make you feel happier and will hopefully attract someone worthy of your goodness.

if you stay as you are without challenging yourself and looking to restore yourelf you are going to attract another man that will not leave you happy or fulfilled and you'll be giving out signs to guys that you are not worthy and its ok to treat you like a doormat or cheat on you, only put 40% into a relationship etc...

its up to you, but I have to stand by what I believe in this post and that is I think the sooner you separate and be honest with him, tell him you want a good amout of time away hassle free to think things over.

it sounds to me like you are again giving him more than is good for what you NEED!!!!!! time away will help you see and b able to do things that you like, you can build your old self and self esteem without worrying what anyone else thinks.

you liked that guy because you didn't need to think around him, he was fun, more your type, he connected with something in you that you hadn't experienced in a long time...the problem was he was using you because he had a low esteem that needed feeding by flirting when he knew he wasn't really going to give you anything special or genuine, just build him up when he's bored. but had he been single then he would have been worth trying for. and that is what I am really saying to you.

don't waste your time without at least separating for a few weeks, up to 2 months if you need to and see how you cope. if you are sure after that that you don't want to try to find someone more like the guy (BUT WHO IS SINGLE AND WANTS TO BE WITH YOU OR AT LEAST BE A FREIND THAT MIGHT BE MORE IN TIME) then you an go back.

its about realising you have to give yourself a chance to heal and grow. you sound stale and in a rut with your partner, it sounds like about you wanting to do the right thing to fix something that isn't really that good for you. its routine, its meadiocre but it isn't lighting your fire emotionally,or giving you your self esteem back.

I had a friend recently just got over her man and she is really happy about being single now she's had a bit of time to get used to it. she coped, like most people do in the usual ways that were hard when you say goodbye to someone that is ok and a good person but not really right, and she did all the tears and stuff and now she has a fresh outlook, she is excited and has lots of new plans and hopes for the season.

she really thought he was going to be the one for the rest of her life!!!! and like you she had a choice, and she they took a brave step to cool it.

if its real what you have, a few weeks or even months part are not going to change things and you can get back together and maybe work on things properly. but if you don't take this opportunity to build your self esteem back up on your own and on your own terms without him at your side and in your thoughts or making you feel guilty or worried about what is going on etc then you are in danger of always being used and cheated on because people will see that n you and even worse, (like what I believe you are doing now, you will let them do it, looking to change them or change yourself to make things different.

when it works with someone, you don't have to keep trying so hard to change yourself or justify what they do that hurts or keeps you without your sparks.

I think it will be easier to greive only once for 2 guys than to get over a deep crush and then have all the tears begging guilt and drama of your least if you sperate you can go back if you really think it is love you both have together.

if not then you will have given yourself new strength and new hope to find a guy that you can build a new exciting time with and your time alone will make you stronger and more capable to not keep accepting men that are ok but not really what makes your heart beat fast and you genuinely have proper values and aspirations in common.

somone that is so career focused will from what you've said wont ever put your needs first, even in the future, it will be what he wants, moving to where his work is based, being around people he wants or needs for work (yup id say the same if it was a gal you were wanting and she was so work focused....his goals don't sound that concrete yet anyway...which is also another thing that I don't think will be good for you to keep waiting on hopes and dreams.

maybe it might also be interesting to see if you do separate if he spends his time on his career!!!!!!! I think that might be the case, In which case you have to really think about if you even really fit into what he wants long term.

I still think that this is all part of the lack of experience of yours in that this is your first real relationship.

finding other people is all part of it for most of us, and you grow when you can learn to be more in tune with what you want but are also in tune with others and feel comfortable in your choices (and they are fair and wont hurt for fun...that's where talking and being honest comes in)Ö.why settle for second best.

if you separate you will soon find out the truth about your own needs, you heart, your vulnerabilities etc...but you can do it at your own pace and time without having to feel bad, explain or feel pressured. this guy is either right or he is not....I think time away however hard it will be, is the only thing that can give you an opportunity to build your self.

don't see this as throwing the towel in as you say, see it as putting the towel in the washing machine and leaving it to dry on the line for a while where it can dry natuatlly and fluff up and smell a lot fresher.

when you then go back to fetch the towel from the line (or at least view it with fresh eyes again) you might think ah yes my "favourite" towel its great to have it back and put it back where it belongs.... or you might think, this is old thing, its worn, faded and just not as colourful as I need anymore, my needs have changed and I fancy a new pattern.

well there you have it. its not that much different from what I was saying before, only this time I am probably saying don't wait to heal and then greive again...pull of the plaster and let the fresh air (of time) heal the wounds.

I think you need to be brave and ask yourself how you are feeling now that you don't have the crush using you and pat yourself on the back for speaking up to stop yourself being a doormat. you need to put your partner in the same boat for a while, and I think only then will you see if you really want to keep having to adapt who you are and what you do to please someone who is just going thorugh the motions of a relationship with you.

it doesn't sound like love to me, and from all the abuse you've suffered big or small, I think LOVE is the one thing you do need.

love and respect from you to yourself again, and when you have that strength, you can and will give it to a new and exciting partner that feels as excited and sparks with you.

be kind to yourself, and be brave. I don't think you will get far with this guy you are with, and if you do...can you honestly say he will be the one for the rest of your life???? if he cant? then is there any point in just hangin in thar?

ok, that's my bit. you've cooled things once with someone not really right for you, and I think you need to do that again (and remember you can go back after the separation if you know you want him).

but I think you need to give it a go, for your own sense of self and to start to really take control in your life again where relationships are concerned.

you've let others control and you've accepted things that are not making you happy. separating will give you the real chance to see what makes you happy and what needs to be thrown away or changed.

GOOD LUCK...even if it doesn't sound ideal, it is an honest reply. and whatever happens I DO WISH YOU WELL FOR THE FUTURE....I think you can and should find the courage again to start speaking up for yourself.

the guy accepted what you said and if your partner really loves you and can see what it is you are really trying to do (strengthen yourself and see if you really are meant to stay together) then he will be by your side , he wont like it but he will wait for you and hope things can work.....if he doesn't!!!! then you will know he either isn't that mature!!!! or that concerned really about you as a couple!
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