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BustaEve
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Hi all,

I've been stuck in a rut for the last 2 weeks and I cannot seem to pull myself out.

I've been binge eating continually, I haven't exercised for 2 weeks (i usually exercise about 6 days a week) my sleeping patterns are completely out of whack and I have so much self-loathing at the moment.

I know I should exercise and eat well, but I just don't feel like I'm worth it.

I'm struggling with my boyfriend being away. He's been away for a month and is away for another 2. Being apart has given me time to think. Sometimes I think I really do miss him but other times Im not sure if I actually miss him as a person or I miss having someone around.

And I've been texting other guys and entertaining the thought of sleeping with them, even though my boyfriend made us swear we wouldn't engage in intimate activities with other people.

Im so confused, I don't know what I want, all I do now is that I hate feeling this way and it can't continue.

Plus, ive gained so much weight, and I look awful.

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Heather
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Can we perhaps start by maybe looking for some middle ground, here?

For instance, how about if we first acknowledge that how you look and how you feel -- in your body, per your health -- are different things, even though they can be related to each other.

I also don't know what you usually do for the six days you usually work out, but if that's more than moderate activity, that may be too much. In other words, maybe you went all to nothing because your body wants something more in the middle.

It also sounds like with your relationship, you're having some issues, and are thinking about reacting to those in a pretty counterproductive way.

What do you want to tackle first, here? And, to get started with any of it, do you feel like you usually handle stress and strain well, and can find healthy ways of dealing with conflict or just not feeling so awesome?

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Thanks Heather.

I tend to think in an all-or-nothing way and this affects my life in numerous ways, for example I'm either exercising daily (sometimes twice) and eating really well or I'm not exercising and binge eating. So your point about middle ground is pertinent.

I don't think I handle stress and strain that well and my way of coping, eating, is not helpful at all.

This morning I went to the gym, and so I feel at least I've made a start.

I think one of the reasons why I allowed the binging to go on for so long was because I'm scared that I won't be able to eat "binge" foods when I'm eating well. I am fully aware that to avoid this thinking I should incorporate "binge" foods in moderation into my normal eating habits. I've done that to some success but that is something I do need to work on.

The other factor is that while my boyfriend's away I'm staying at his apartment alone. I usually live at home, and there is no opportunity for me to have people over there. So part of me thinks that since I have this option of bringing guys home that I should take it. I know this isn't really the most sound way of thinking, but it's something that is in my mind.

I guess I should tackle my relationship issues first, because if I can sort those out or reach a conclusion that I feel okay about, then I wouldn't feel the need to binge.

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Heather
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Sorry to have dropped the ball with you on this, Eve: I took a couple needed days off.

Want me to pick it up again with you?

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Hi Heather,

I assumed you would be taking a break over New Year's so no need to apologise.

Over the past few days I've managed to reduce the binging and hopefully I'll be able to keep that in check.

I'm still conflicted over my feelings for my boyfriend and the idea of engaging in sexual activities with other men.

It was my boyfriend's idea that we would stay faithful while he was away. I was going to suggest that we have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy as in we wouldn't ask each other what we had done (in terms of sexual activities with others) and we wouldn't offer the information freely either. Therefore giving us permission to do whatever with whoever.

But he was adamant about staying faithful and I agreed as I thought if I didn't that would, understandably, make him doubt my commitment to him.

On the one hand I don't want to cheat on my boyfriend but on the other I think I should explore my options while he's away.

A friend suggested to me that my wandering eye was a reaction to my fears of becoming more emotionally involved/attached to him, and so my actions are the result of me (sub)consciously trying to pull away from him or create reasons for us to break-up.
Initially I thought my friend made a valid point, but now I'm not so sure.

If I really did want to be with him, wouldn't I want to be faithful as we've agreed?

Wouldn't it be obvious to me that I was missing him as a person, and not just missing having a 'boyfriend'?

Shouldn't I know what I want?

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Heather
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You know, while everyone gets to choose what relationship models they want, in my personal and proffesional experience (and hey, in the military) DADT most often tends to result in a world of fail. Most likely because why people choose not to ask or tel is because they don't want to know because they'd prefer what isn't being asked or told wasn't happening at all. Know what I mean?

So, if you want *my* advice, it's this: if you want an open relationship, talk about it. Communicate and negotiate the boundaries and practices both of you truly are comfortable about and CAN talk about. If your boyfriend is saying he is NOT comfortable with you having sexual relationships with anyone but him right now, then I don't think having them and saying nothing is a good answer. I think you not wanting to tell him has a lot to do with you knowing he's not -- from the sounds of things -- okay with that.

I'm not going to say that if you really wanted to be with him you'd want to only be with him, because not everyone wants to be monogamous. To me, that's kind of like suggesting that a parent of one child couldn't really love them if they want to have another. Know what I mean? We can love people very deeply without only loving just them. We can have strong sexual feelings for people without only having sexual feelings for them.

And I'm not going to say you should magically know what you want, either. [Smile] Often enough, figuring out what we want takes time and thinking and talking, rather than just being something we know without any of that.

maybe we should start here, with your relationship model as it stands: it sounds like your boyfriend wants a monogamous sexual relationship with you. Is that what you want? If not, what do you think you might want instead?

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Prior to my boyfriend leaving we had a monogamous sexual relationship, although he did have sex with another woman (once) after we'd agreed to be monogamous.

It's only because he's away that I'm thinking about sex with other men, and since I have the space to do it within (his apartment as opposed to when I'm living at home) I almost feel that I should use the opportunity.

The other factor is that he's from a culture of arranged marriages. So, when he finishes his studies, in a year or so, he'll be returning home and will in due course be married.

So part of me wonders why I should be faithful when this relationship will never be long-term.

I'm the one that will get hurt when he leaves (IF we are still together then).

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BustaEve
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I forgot to explicitly state that I wanted it to be a monogamous sexual relationship (when he was here) too.
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Heather
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Well, I don't personally think that being in a relationship -- or in a certain model of it -- only has value if it lasts a certain time.

But that's general, and we're talking about the specific here: about what you want and what you think feels right for you.

I also, though, don't think honoring your agreement to be exclusive or not honoring it is going to make a relationship you value hurt any less when and if it ends. But I do think we can probably agree that dishonoring agreements like this -- rather than trying to renegotiate them or change them -- means that people are going to get hurt no matter what, and anything that's going to hurt is likely to hurt more, and anything likely to end will more likely end in an uglier way.

Am I getting it right that, ideally, you want to be in a sexually exclusive relationship with him, except that:
• The fact that you have a private space where you can have sex with others is something that has you thinking you should, by that merit alone,
• You feel that exclusivity with him ties you more to him than you'd like since it seems a given he will not be marrying you
• You feel his leaving when he does will hurt you and sex with others will make you hurt less (or hurt him back?)

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Re dot points:

dot point 1) is true.

dot point 2) yes, I feel that exclusivity does tie me more to him. However, I've known all along about the arranged marriages and moreover, I don't want to marry him nor do I see me wanting to marry him in the future, so that is a non-issue.

dot point 3) IF we are still together when he leaves, then yes I'll be hurt. I don't think having sex with others will make me hurt less, but being on the lookout for another potential boyfriend might mean I find one sooner when we do break-up.

Further, he if knew I was thinking about engaging in sexual activities with other men, he would be angry/jealous/hurt.

Perhaps in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that while we've been together, approx 7 months, I HAVE engaged in oral and manual sex with 2 other men, at a point when I felt certain we were going to break-up. Obviously we did not break-up and I did not tell him about what I had done.

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Heather
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Want me to try and break down those three points some more with you?

(I do want to say that I, personally, have big ethical issues from a health perspective of not telling partners you are with when you have had other partners, because that puts their health at risk in ways they many not know about or manage, and also makes part of sex nonconsensual. In other words, if what they are consenting to is sex within a monogamous relationship when that's not really true, then a big piece of consent goes out the window. So, I do think we should talk about that at some point in this conversation, and I would personally urge you not to do that and also to disclose to your partner.)

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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I had honestly never thought about the health risks, and I'm totally surprised and shocked at myself that I didn't consider that aspect.

However, at a rountine pap smear test, following these two occasions of engaging in sexual activities with the other men, I also got tested for STIs, and the tests came back negative, and my boyfriend and I ALWAYS use condoms. Plus he never performs oral sex on me, so I truly hope I haven't put him at risk.

In preparing and writing these reponses I think it has become clear to me that my actions throughout the relationship have indicated that I've never completely committed and am always on the lookout for who else may be out there.
I guess this suggests that the feelings I have for my boyfriend are perhaps not as strong as maybe I'd like them to be, and my desire to have a boyfriend means I'm willing to make concessions in order to keep him.

When I say 'make concessions' I mean there has been maybe 3 or 4 times during the relationship when his actions/words would have been grounds for me to break-up with him. For example: when he slept with the other woman - previously I always said to myself that if the partner I was with cheated on me then that would be it; early on in the relationship he told me it would be better if I was thinner and given my issues with eating disorders and concern over how I look this was devastating for me, given though at the time he was not aware of my disordered eating but his words still hurt me as I thought he actually did like my body and of course turns out he didn't; and a story he told me about an incident that took place when he was back home quite shocked me and made me question what type of guy my boyfriend is.

I feel that if I was in a different position, that is if I was slim and beautiful and interesting, than I perhaps wouldn't have stayed with me because I would have had other options.

Plus, he's my first ever boyfriend and I'm scared that if I let him go, I'll be on my own again for a long time, if not indefinitely.

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Heather
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That's good you've kept up with your testing, but that doesn't mean you can be sure you've got nothing going on: just that so far, nothing has shown up. And that still really doesn't change the consent issue here, you know? Plus, safer sex doesn't take away health risks: it reduces them. So, if you're asking me, I really think he has a right to know, all around.

You went somewhere before I got there. (That's good! These are your feelings, after all, and you're the expert on them.)

I was going to say that it sounded to me like you're really already halfway out the door with this relationship. It sounds like you want to be with other people to...well, date. To be on the lookout for a partner, because you're kind of already done with this relationship, or feel like it's too temporary for you to get invested in. Saying you also don't feel very strongly for this partner is something else that sure sounds like you're just pretty done.

I now also hear you voicing a really big fear of being single. That never tends to help make or sustain good relationships: being afraid of being alone, or without a partner isn't a very good reason to be with someone, and we can probably agree on that. To build really good intimate relationships, we tend to need to FIRST be okay with ourselves, by ourselves, or at least, pretty okay. We certainly need to let go of fears of being single to at least some degree.

So, if you want my very best advice, I'd say that it sounds to me like your best bet, for yourself and for the quality of relationships moving forward, would be to talk about a split with your boyfriend. And then NOT to race into something else right away, but instead to go ahead and just face some of these fears, BE on your own, and invest your extra time not in someone else and your value to them, but in yourself, and in learning to like YOU.

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Thanks so much Heather for all your help and advice. [Smile]
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Heather
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Of course.

How did all of that sound to you?

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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I definately do fear being single, because before I met my boyfriend I had always been single and I do worry that if I let him go, then I will remain single.

I realise though that fear of being single is not a positive reason to be in a relationship with someone.

I will have to talk to my boyfriend but I don't know if it would be good idea to bring this up while he is away. I was thinking it would be better to talk face-to-face with him when he gets home in just under 2 months.

But that's quite a long time and maybe he should know how I am feeling sooner.

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Heather
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I don't think that's a very long time, but I certainly do think that what his being away can give you right now is plenty of time and space to really think about all this.

So, my advice would be that for at least the next week or two, you do just that, including getting a start on some practice learning to enjoy being alone. The ethics of not honoring a monogamy agreement aside, it seems to be it's possible part of the desire to try and make a bunch of hookups happen while he was gone might have something to do with discomfort being alone, too.

How about instead you use this opportunity to start learning to be unafraid of being by 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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Heather
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Been thinking about you, Eve, wanted to check in and see how you were doing.

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Gosh, it's hard to believe that someone so busy as yourself Heather would have time to think of me, and I really appreciate your concern.

I wanted to say earlier that I believe the articles on the Scarleteen website should be mandatory reading for high school students and that sex and healthy relationship education in schools would be far better if they were replaced with the information contained on this website.

Back to your question.

I know it is important to be able to be comfortable with being on my own and not needing to be in a relationship. Aside from this current relationship, I've always been single, and while at times I was fine with this, ultimately I like being in a relationship, and I do want to be in a relationship.

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Heather
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Do you want to talk about that (that last bit)?

And thanks for such a lovely compliment! [Smile]

--------------------
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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BustaEve
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Hi Heather,

Thank-you for your query, but I don't really feel the need to discuss it.

From my perspective human beings are social creatures and seek out bonds and ties with others, so I feel me wanting to be in a relationship is part of human nature.

NB. I am not saying that if a person does NOT want to be in a relationship they are somehow going against human nature.

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