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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » How do you KNOW?

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Author Topic: How do you KNOW?
Prozac
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I am in a new relationship after getting out of several bad ones in succession. I am, naturally, hesitant about this new relationship because of how badly things have gone in the past. This guy and I have been together for about a month now, and have known each other since this semester started (we have class together).

Things seemed to be going well. Just two days ago, I was feeling really enthusiastic about the relationship and where it was going. But then, abruptly, for no apparent reason, I started having doubts. Do I even want to be in a relationship? I have a history of sexual abuse, too, and I don't even know if I really LIKE men -- but I'm not really that attracted to women either. And what if I make the same bad mistakes I did in my previous relationships? I don't want to end up in a cycle of sucky relationships.

I guess my question is, how do you KNOW you want to be with someone? Is it wrong to be in a relationship with someone you DON'T know if you want to be with?

I don't want to hurt this guy's feelings by dumping him... but I don't want to lead him on either...

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Heather
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I think this is one of those questions where the answer in one way is very easy: you know, because you think and feel, "I want to be in a relationship with this person."

In other words, maybe you're not sure how it'll go, but you very much want to find out and give it a go.

Of course, the more complex parts are things like, what KIND of a relationship: is it a kind you want? What agreements does this involve? Do you want them? Do they feel like things you can agree to and honor? Also, maybe you want to be in something, but is the timing right for you? Do you feel up to all it might involve?

I'd say that not being sure if you like the gender of person you could be in a relationship with, and aren't sure if you even want to be in a relationship at all, even just those two things? That it's sounding pretty clearly like you don't know that you want to be in a relationship with that person.

I don't think it's wrong to explore something with someone when you have doubts: after all, most thinking people will always have some doubts. Really,it's about how big those are, and if, ultimately, you really want to enter into a relationship with someone or not.

I'd also say there's something to be said about honesty, here: so, for instance, if you're not sure you're ready for a given kind of relationship? That's usually something to share with the other person first. If you're not sure you're attracted to them and their gender? That kind of uncertainty is also probably something you want to find a way to voice if you're going to go ahead and get involved, rather than decline.

So, when you came into it, and now, do you strongly feel you WANT to be in this, whatever this is?

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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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Prozac
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When I came into it, I only sort of wanted to do it. Just recently I decided I was REALLY into it. And then just a couple of days ago, and now, I'm thinking I don't want to do it at all. But at the same time I don't want to let him go; he's a good guy and I like him a lot and I know he'll be good to me.

I'm just so afraid of making the same mistakes all over again.

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Heather
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Well, you can't turn back time. You know that. But for future reference? I'd say that you don't agree to pursue a relationship unless you're sure it IS something you want to do. Not kind of want to do: want to do. So, now;s you know. [Smile]

But how about we start from where you are right now: how are you feeling about it NOW? And have you shared these feelings with this person, so you could talk about them together?

You say you're worried about making mistakes you've made in the past: how about we talk about what you think those were?

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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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Prozac
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In the past, everything just moved so fast. I would have sex with the guy the same day I met him and then go from there. I'd have sex even if I didn't really want to be having sex. The relationships were entirely physical, all about the guy's pleasure, and all about my self-destruction.

I haven't told this guy about my feelings. I'm afraid of hurting HIS feelings by saying the wrong thing. "Yeah, I don't know if I like you enough..." kind of comes out sounding wrong.

As for how I feel NOW -- I feel, right now, like I wish I could turn back time and go back to a few days ago when I was feeling so positive and upbeat about the relationship. I kind of wish I were outside with him at the park laying on the grass again just holding hands and talking, and that none of these doubts had ever surfaced.

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Heather
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Well, you don't have to turn back time to slow things down. We can always do that in existing relationships.

And if your worry is about things moving too fast again, sounds like, for now, what you can do to correct that IS to talk about all of this, including that concern. You can also even just ask if maybe you can pull things back a little more, so you can really take more time before you're all the way in something, and take responsibility for playing the part you did in agreeing to something quicker than you felt ready for.

You don't have to say "I don't know if I like you enough," especially since that wouldn't even be very truthful: this is clearly about way more than that for you, and more about you, and your patterns, than about him, you know?

When you do this like that, that's not going to hurt someone. He might be disappointed, but that's not the same as hurt, nor is that the same as hurting him. But starting a relationship where already you're keeping big things to yourself from the start? THAT is the kind of thing way more likely to result in people getting hurt, including him AND yourself.

--------------------
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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Prozac
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Okay, I'll talk to him. But how do you start that conversation? What if he reacts badly, like "we're already going slow enough!" or something?
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Heather
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Then you can probably know for sure this isn't the person for you, since it's feeling too fast for YOU and you express a pattern of relationships where the other person does all or most of the driving and you cave.

But if he IS someone who CAN go more your pace, and who also, you know, it's a total tool, then I don't imagine saying that you made a mistake moving into this too fast, and you want to slow things down so this is right for you will go poorly. Now, maybe he won't want that, and will think it's best you part ways, but that's not being jerky, if so. That's just being real about two people who want different things.

How do you start this? Ask if you can talk to him about this. Tell him you've realized you've been making some errors with this that square with some bad patterns in relationships you want to break. Whatever it is you really want and need right now -- be that slowing things down, or parting ways, etc. -- you ask for those things.

You said you like this guy in some ways and seem to value him: so, you be open and real with him like we are with people we respect and value.

--------------------
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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Prozac
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Okay. I'll try. Thanks!
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Heather
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Also? Moving forward, it sounds like slowing things down is the aim for you in general.

And like that means -- perhaps amongst other things -- taking more time to get to know someone before sex, and taking more time to agree to enter a more serious or committed relationship. In a word, taking more time to date and figure out what you want gradually, including figuring out if you want things before you agreed to them or are already doing them.

Maybe just write something like that down for yourself somewhere so you can commit to that for yourself?

--------------------
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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Prozac
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I'll put it in my journal :) Thanks
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Prozac
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I talked to him. :) Or rather, Facebooked him because I'm not gonna see him for a couple days...

I told him I was scared of going too fast and worried about making mistakes, that I'd just gotten out of a row of bad relationships and I was just kind of hesitant about being with him, and he replied with this:

"[My name]

I understand that you're scared -- new relationships are hard, especially after bad ones get over. But we're different. We are NOT going to jump into anything too soon. I will not make you do ANYTHING you don't want to do -- I PROMISE.

I can tell you've been hurt before, but I WILL NOT HURT YOU. If you ever feel like we're going too fast, just stop me and I'll stop. I'll always stop. I'm not 22 anymore (no offense to your age group); I know how to control myself and how to respect a woman and treat her properly.

If you feel like you just can't handle it, I'll repeat what I said before: we can always go back to just being friends. You really have nothing to be scared of. "

:)

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Heather
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Well, that certainly was a good outcome, yes? [Smile]

Sounds like this person is giving you plenty of room here, including making clear that even if you decide you don't want a sexual/romantic relationship at all, he'll be graceful about that.

--------------------
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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Prozac
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It was a VERY good outcome. I feel MUCH better. :) :) :)

Thanks so much for the advice!

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Prozac
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Just an update:

Things are going great again! We're not moving too fast at all; I went over to his apartment today for lunch and that's all we did -- LUNCH! He really seems like a nice guy and I talked to my therapist about when the "right time" for moving onto activities other than kissing would be, and he said, "Talk it over with [my boyfriend] when you're ready and see if he's ready too." So there's going to be a lot a communication happening in the future (but not right now!)!

Thanks so much for helping me through my rough patch :)

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Heather
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You're so very welcome. [Smile]

So glad to hear that it sounds like you're now able to explore something that's much more at the pace you want!

--------------------
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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