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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Becoming Abusive (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Becoming Abusive
Cat_Power
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I've broken up with my first girlfriend about 10 days ago. This was our first our first relationship for both of us, and we were together for about 4 months. We broke up because she says a lot of things happened in her life recently, most of them bad, and she just can't take anything anymore, feels she loves me less then before, and doesn't want to stay in a relationship in which I get more bound to her, and then she stops loving me completely, and breaks my heart apart even more.

But all of that is irrelevant to why I am making a post here, just felt I should describe briefly what happened.

The reason for making this post is that I got concerned about something. I was talking to a friend, and she asked me if me and my girlfriend were talking about sex, on which I replied yes, and started thinking about it. And after a lot of thinking, I understood something terrifying.

We talked a couple of times about having sex together, and she said she doesn't feel ready right now, and that she wants about 12-18 months to pass before having sex with me, while I said that 3-5 months is what I feel is enough(we were 3 months together at that point), and that I want sex very much(which is true). And we kept talking about it, what it means to us, etc. But I kept saying that I want it very much, and that it is hard for me if we are in relationship and don't have sex, which made her cry, on which I hugged her and said nothing to worry, I'll survive etc.

We didn't talk about it much for a time. She went to a vacation, and one day while she was missing I felt very bad, and depressed, probably because I was alone in town, she and all of my friends were on holiday, but did not realize that at that time.When I told her via SMS how bad I felt, she got very upset, and afraid for me. Next day, I went to a 10 day holiday which made feel awesome.

When I came back, we met, and our evening was going nicely until she wanted to talk about my depression that day, and the reason behind it. I said it was partly because I missed her, partly becuase I missed my friends, and partly because we haven't had sex. That made her quite upset of course, she didn't cry, but was very upset. However, when we got back to normal, evening ended just fine. 3 days after that we broke up.

Now, the problem is, that deeply inside me, I knew I didn't have hard time not having sex, nor does it make me feel very bad, nor am I getting depressed by that, and still, I told her that. I loved her very much, and still love her very much, and I still told her that, made her cry, make her feel very guilty, and very bad and sad.

I am not 100% sure if that is emotional abuse, but am quite convinced it is, and feel very bad about it. Even if she agreed to have sex earlier, I wouldn't want to becuase she would be doing that just for me, but then hey, before our relationship I never thought I would be so awful to someone I love and care for so much.

I feel extremely bad about what I've been doing to her, and think that I am a very bad person, and don't like myself anymore. I feel that I won't do it again in another relationship, but how can I be so sure that I won't? What if I find myself doing that again? I know I should wait and see if that happens, but I feel sooooooo upset and terrible now :'(

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Heather
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Determining whether or not someone is being abusive tends to involve looking at a pattern of behaviors, rather than how they behave in just one instance or around one issue. Abuse is also something that is centered around intentional harm or control.

I think it's great to be concerned in assuring the way we're relating to others is healthy and safe, and I commend you for that. But I'm not hearing any abuse based just on hat you're writing here.

However, I do see that something was missing here, perhaps on the part of both of you.

People who have feelings for each other don't always have the same wants and needs in relationships. When those are very different in any regard, in general, the answer is knowing that a given relationship probably just isn't a good fit. In other words, when she made clear she needs a couple years, but you felt you couldn't deal with more than a few months, that was both of you identifying an incompatibility, one that sounds, to me, like something that tells you both you're probably just not a good fit for a romantic/sexual relationship because you each want and need different things.

So, ideally, what one of you would have been able to do was to acknowledge you both may just be different, and that's not about either person wanting (or not wanting) something wrong, but about the two of you not being a good fit together right now. ideally, you also would have dropped the conversation about how much you want and need sex once she said she didn't feel at all ready for that: continuing otherwise can feel like pressure. So, it may be that while I don't see abuse here, you may have -- even unintentionally -- put sexual pressure on her.

I hear you pretty clearly seeing where you erred here, and working to cultivate awareness about it. So, I'm actually not concerned you'll address this the same way. Can I ask why you worry you won't behave differently given how you're feeling about this?

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Cat_Power
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Well, before my relationship, I had been sure that I would never put sexual pressure on anyone, because that is really bad, and simply I had never thought I would do that to anybody.

And while I was in the relationship, I always felt like I would never do that to my girlfriend. But it seems that I did, and in a way, knowingly, by telling her that not having sex harms me in a way. When I recall my thoughts and emotions, I feel that I did deeply know that that was not true, and still I told her that. It's not really that I lied to her, it's more that I've lied to myself and convinced that was true, and that I was being harmed, although I wasn't.

So, at the time of putting sexual pressure on her, I was partly aware of doing so. Maybe not completely, but partly yes. So I am concerned that it could happen again because I still don't want to put sexual pressure on anyone as I didn't want then, but I did although I did not want to.

As for the other thing you said, I feel bad because in a way, I don't think having sex too fast is a good idea, especially because the desire for it was not that strong in me. It's just... I don't know myself why did I do what I did [Frown] I don't know how to explain it. I don't really want to have sex that early, and without greater desire for it, and neither does she. But I still put the pressure and told that I want it. That makes me feel very bad [Frown]

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Heather
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For sure, saying you are somehow harmed by not having sex wasn't okay and isn't true. But it also sounds like you didn't have an awareness of all of this at the time.

Have you told her that? I not only think you'd be doing her a really good turn by sharing the self-awareness you have about this now with her, I think it'd help you feel better by making amends for that error and previous lack of understanding of yourself.

We tell you guys this here a lot, but I want to repeat it: we ALL learn so much of all this as we go. None of us just come into the world knowing how to manage these feelings, and all of us are bound to make some missteps sometimes and then learn from those mistakes. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or has their own lack of self-awareness at play.

Maybe one thing you can take away from this, especially combined with your other post where it sounds like you have some self-esteem and self-worth to work on, is that it might be too soon for you to have an intimate relationship. You and others may be served best by working on those things first -- which we need to do for ourselves -- before entering into another relationship.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Yes, i told her I want us to meet and that I have something to tell her, and we met 3-4 days ago and I told her that, and she said that she is glad to hear that I am aware of the pressure I was putting on her and how I made her feel bad.

As for the self-worth and self-worth to work on, I am unsure if I even need that, it feels quite hard for me to identify that kind of problem, especially now after all that happened, and if it shows up that I need, I don't know how could I improve that. I don't know how can I change how I think about myself and how I feel about myself, because my whole life I've thought and felt one way, so I don't know how to intentionally change that :/

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Heather
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Well, one thing you voiced in your other post is that you don't feel complete without a romantic relationship.

While identifying what DOES make you feel complete that's within yourself can be a bit of a lifelong process, one good step to help you start to get there is to try and identify what it IS about romantic relationships that make you feel compplete in a way you don't otherwise.

In other words, what do those give you that you don't feel you can give yourself?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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That is a good question, and I've been thinking a lot about it. There are several things that a loving relationship gives me, what I don't have otherwise.

Simply, a loving relationship gives me someone I love and care for very much, a person for whom I'd do almost anything, and feel that I am loved that same way. That, in a way, warms my heart, makes me feel good. Makes me incredibly happy to see and spend time with that person, and we were spending a lot of time together, usually about 5 hours per day, up to 8-9. Gives me the joy of hugging/cuddling/kissing that person, which makes me feel warmer, closer to her.

if I understood you well, I should try to feel well and complete outside of a loving relationship before stepping into one, but how can I do that if the things that make me so happy and make me feel so good are FROM the loving relationship? :/

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Heather
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Okay. So, besides romantic relationships, can you identify anything else for me that you have as part of your life that provides you with these feelings, particularly around being valued and cared for, and providing care for others?

In terms of physical touch, are there other areas in your life where you have some kind of affectionate touch, like being hugged?

(Mind, most love relationships aren't going to involve many hours of the day with people being together on a daily basis, since that's just not the kind of time most folks have in their lives for one relationship. So, if you feel like you need that much time from a relationship, that may be something to talk about, too.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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If is anything else, I'd say it's friends. But it's simply not that strong, and it's a bit different of course. And hugs with friends are not so warm, affectionate like hugs with girlfriend.

And yes, I feel like I really need a lot of time :/ But it's not every day... I'd rather see a girlfriend once in three days for 9 hours then three days for 3 hours each. Somehow, I feel 3 hours are not enough... Accounting 45-60 min to go somewhere, and 45-60 min to get back home from somewhere, I'd be left with only about 1 hour to be alone with a girl... :/

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Heather
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By any chance, have you ever done any kind of volunteer work, specifically, any kind of work that serves people in need in some way?

I suggest that because not only is there always lots of human service work like that that needs to be done, it can provide a great way to learn that being needed, and being valued for care you provide, isn't just rewarding and rich within romantic or sexual relationships.

Obviously, that doesn't address the physical contact piece, since in a lot of kinds of volunteer work, not only is physical contact crossing a line, any where it would happen shouldn't really be about our own needs as helpers.

So, can I maybe ask about what ways, for yourself, you take care of your own body in this regard? We can't really hug ourselves to be sure, but there are some things we can do for our own bodies, sexually and/or otherwise, to help with feeling a lack of being touched, and to fill some of those needs so that we don't feel so empty in that regard that a sense of desperation with others develops.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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No, I have never done such volunteer work, and I think I'll give it a try.

As for the question, I don't really understand how can I fill the need of being touched and hugged.

However, I think I have understood what you are trying to tell me, that I should make myself complete before stepping into a romantic relationship [Smile]

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Heather
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Per the touch, let me give you a few personal examples.

I have pets: playing with/touching them nonsexually fulfills some of that need for me.

Taking care of my body in some ways can do that, too, like being able to take some extra time in the bath or shower, rubbing feet when they're sore.

Masturbating can fulfill a lot of sexual-specific needs per touch.

Some kinds of exercise can engage self-touch in a way that fills some of these human needs, too. Yoga, for instance.

Engaging my senses in ways where I am touching things I feel connected to can do that for me as well, like gardening, playing musical instruments or cooking.

Hopefully it's clear I'm not suggesting people don't have a need for affectionate touch from others: we absolutely do. But there's also a balance to be struck, where we're doing self-care, as well as filling and sharing that need in more than one relationship and context (where it's not just sexual, or not just in a romantic relationship, etc.).

[ 09-05-2010, 03:22 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Yeah, when I think about it now, I do have several activities that fill a part of the need for me like pets, musical instruments etc. [Smile]

Thank you a lot for all the time and help you gave me Heather [Smile] This site is simply amazing, it contains sooooo much information people of my age need, and not only about sex, but about relationships and some other stuff as well. Combined with these forums, it's one of the best sites on the internet.

Thank you again [Smile]

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Heather
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Well, thank YOU! I really appreciate that, and I'm so glad to be of help. If I can help more with this, I'm happy to talk more.

I'm also wondering if you don't mind if I ask for some of your insight on something this post brought up for me. In short, lately I have been noticing what I feel like is a good deal of young middle-eastern men kind of distrusting themselves in this way. In other words, who I feel like might be being harder or themselves, more suspicious of themselves about having healthy relationships or expressing sexual desires in ways that seem pretty okay to me, but which some don't seem to feel okay about.

Do you know what I mean? If so, I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on this if you're up to it.

Given it's not a culture I live in, and given I'm not a young man in that position/of that identity, I'm not sure if my own ideas I'm having around this are sound. In short, it feels to me like it might be dealing with some generational change in your own culture, but also emotionally feeling a lot of the global xenophobia and expressed hate/fears around mid-east people.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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If I ever need anymore help of this kind, I'll sure seek it here [Smile]

And I'll be glad to try to help you. You are right, there are a lot of people of my age that distrust themselves. Can't be exactly sure why it is so, but I have several reasons in which I believe. There is a big lack of sexual education(and in sexual I also mean about relationships, not sure how to call that). only part of those are some educators which go to schools, and do a 45 minute discussion once in a year or two, and things they say are mostly about diseases, and saying NO to sex. So there isn't any good sexual education. 95% of what I've learned about sex and relationships is from this site, so basically it's almost everything.

Also, I am not completely sure about this, but as far as I know, religion that is dominant in my country doesn't say almost anything about sex(except prohibiting sexuality), compared to Catholics, who are forbidden to have sex before marriage(or at least I've heard so) or others. So we are kind of like on an open blank field, with no restrictions and no education or information either, which can lead to being unsure in ourselves.

Male people are very non-helpful in relationship problems as well(after a breakup, most common talk from them is "Shit happens" and that's it). And having good, real female friends is not so common, so boys are left with nobody to talk with.

I think all those reasons contribute to the self-distrust...

Hope I've helped you a bit [Smile]

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Heather
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That actually fills me in and gives me a lot of cues in thinking about this. I really appreciate your sharing it with me. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Glad to give a bit of help back. [Smile]
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Cat_Power
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Oh, and I forgot to mention something, homosexual people are preety much doomed here. There are lot's of ideas and fears about them, that hate for homosexual people is really growing. There aren't any organizations in schools and such, ABOSLUTELY no education about/for them. THere are only a few organizations in whole country about gay people, and they aren't well developed, and it's very risky to be a part of them and publicly announcing that you are gay. Those organisations have been trying to make something like a public meeting for about 10 years or so, but are still failing to do so because whenever they anounce something like that, thousands of gay-haters prepare and arm themselves to beat them to death. That's why I feel preety sad for homosexual people [Frown] They can live and have relationships for sure, but it is much safer for them to be secret from everyone, including best friends and family, which sucks :

[ 09-05-2010, 05:36 PM: Message edited by: moon-raven2 ]

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Cat_Power
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I have problems again.

Over the last two weeks, my mood has been changing a lot. one day I am very sad because our relationship ended, then 1-2 days I am happy, then the pain comes again and starts to hurt me, and then after a day it passes, etc. I am getting tired [Frown]

I feel so much hurt because of my relationship's end. Sometimes even angry about my ex because of what she has done to me, but then again, calm down because It's not her fault, and I still love her. And everything is just making me tired. I'm tired of thinking about all that, tired of feeling the pain, tired of feeling emotions... I don't know what to do [Frown]

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Heather
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Can I ask what you've been doing to take care of yourself in your grief, and what you've been doing to help yourself move forward?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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I talked to my friends about what happened. I have tried to make myself understand that the relationship has ended. I have thought that the world has not ended, and that I will fall in love with another girl and be in a romantic relationship again.

I have done many other activities which I like doing, like playing guitar, playing tennis, swimming, photographing, etc.

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Heather
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Sounds like you've been doing a good job, and might just need some more time.

But sometimes something else can help is doing something totally new, whether that's taking a trip, rearranging a room, picking up a new hobby, etc. Mixing things up a little can be emotionally refreshing.

I'm sorry that you're still hurting so much. [Frown]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Bad mood starts when I start thinking about my ex [Frown] Because I start thinking how much she means to me, and how wonderful she is [Frown]

And yuh, I'll try rearranging my room, haven't done that for a long time [Smile]

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Cat_Power
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For example, at the moment I am feeling very very bad, because I think how much I love that girl, and how wonderful she is, and how I want to be with her, and how it was so nice and everything was well, and then it was all just taken away from me :'(

And I don't know how to break free of those feelings, because they are all so true and real [Frown]

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Heather
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It sounds to me, though, like your experiences in this relationship were not the same. In other words, that your experience and hers were a bit different, both in the relationship, but also as the relationship was part of the whole context of each of your lives.

I don't see that anything was taken away from you. I see that a burgeoning relationship was one that seemed to work for you better than it did for the other person, so they chose not to pursue it further.

For sure, your feelings are real and true. But at the same time, often enough in life, something that works or feels great for one person won't for another. I think one of the hardest things about early relationships is that with how intense feelings can be, it can be hard to remember that the first few months of a relationship are still people feeling out whether or not it's something they want to stick with, pursue and deepen. In other words, it's easy for something brand new to feel solid and like a constant, even when it's in its infancy and isn't at all solid yet; it's easy to get very attached to something that's really still a maybe.

Do you know what I mean?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Yeah, I understand what you mean, but I doubt that can be said for our relationship... We both cared for each other a lot, and enjoyed the relationship a lot.
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Heather
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But what I'm hearing you say your ex reported to you, per your first post, was that:

quote:
...she says a lot of things happened in her life recently, most of them bad, and she just can't take anything anymore, feels she loves me less then before, and doesn't want to stay in a relationship in which I get more bound to her...

...she said she doesn't feel ready [for sex] right now, and that she wants about 12-18 months to pass before having sex with me, while I said that 3-5 months is what I feel is enough(we were 3 months together at that point), and that I want sex very much(which is true). And we kept talking about it, what it means to us, etc. But I kept saying that I want it very much, and that it is hard for me if we are in relationship and don't have sex, which made her cry...

She also seems to have expressed feeling scared and uncomfortable with some issues with your mood and your dependence on your relationship.

While all of those things don't mean it was BAD for her, they seem clearly to express that you two had different experiences inside the relationship, and that you might now -- and maybe during as well -- have had a hard time seeing that her experience of the relationship was different than yours, and seemingly less positive.

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Cat_Power
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What I said is true, but I don't really think it means that she enjoyed the relationship less then me.

quote:
She also seems to have expressed feeling scared and uncomfortable with some issues with your mood and your dependence on your relationship.
The dependence thing she said doesn't mean she did not enjoy the relationship less then I did, it just means she was afraid to hurt my feelings more if she wouldn't stop/pause the relationship.

About the sex, yeah, and it's my fault because I am stupid [Frown]

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Heather
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I don't think you're stupid, and I don't think calling yourself stupid is of benefit to you, frankly. I think you behaved a certain way without thinking, perhaps because you were feeling a level of desperation, which you now have learned wasn't so wise or healthy. Often in life, we learn things by erring. It happens.

It might help to recognize that feeling like if you hurt someone's feelings or can't give them what they want does tend to VERY MUCH impact how much you enjoy a relationship. It's very hard to feel free in that dynamic, and hard to relax in it, because it can make you feel like you're always walking on eggshells. In a word, if someone we're with is really delicate in that regard, it's usually something we'll recognize -- with some learning in life -- is an indication that before that person is someone we can be intimate with, they need to take some more care of themselves first.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Yes, I understand [Frown]
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Heather
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Sounds like you might be having a hard time with possibly just not being ready for something you want badly. Are you feeling that way?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Cat_Power
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Not really. I do feel that I'm ready.
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Heather
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I'm going to toss a link to you about healthy relationships. I think it might possibly be helpful for you to kind of get a picture of what those entail, and then be able to self-evaluate whether you do feel ready or not, and if you don't, in what areas you might want to spend some time self-developing so that you are.

I do, though, also want to make clear that I don't think there is a single person who is now or who has ever been alive who is ALWAYS ready for intimate relationships, or a given one, at every single point in our lives. Like your ex was able to clarify for herself, sometimes the context of our lives just isn't a good fit/timing for an intimate relationship. Or, at other times, we might just have something going on with us emotionally that we want/need to work on before it's sound to try and deeply connect with someone intimately. At other times, it might be something else.

Point is, just like with sex, it's not that there's a time in our lives when we're "ready" for any given relationship and then are ever after, it's very individual and situational, depends on the unique relationship, and then also on the other person in all that.

Anyway, here's that link for you, in the case you want it: Hello, Sailor! How to Build, Board and Navigate a Healthy Relationship

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cat_Power
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Thanks for the link, Heather [Smile]

I had read it before(actually, I've read 99% of this site [Razz] ), and have now carefully re-read it. And yes, I do feel ready for a healthy relationship.

The most complicated and hardest thing about all that is the uneven level of desire for sex/seeing each other IMO, but that can be worked through, or if the difference is too big, then I guess people should just understand that and go each their own way...

But still, I do feel ready for them.

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Heather
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Okay. [Smile]

This --

quote:
The most complicated and hardest thing about all that is the uneven level of desire for sex/seeing each other IMO, but that can be worked through, or if the difference is too big, then I guess people should just understand that and go each their own way.
-- is EXACTLY it, I'd say, per a great takeaway from what happened with this relationship. And it's one a lot of people have a really hard time accepting and enacting -- or even recognizing! -- for many, many years, sometimes decades. So I think it's fantastic you're recognizing this so early on, and that that recognition is going to make great, well-matched relationships for you moving forward much more likely. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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