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I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 4:33 am
by Stressandepres
Hi there, I decided to come here to ask about this because I just. Cant seem to get myself to think clearly about this.

Alright so theres this guy I've known pretty much my entire life (literally. I'm 17- almost 18 and I was 4 when we met) and I've been in love with him almost as long. Earlier this year he told me he had feelings for me too, strong ones. We discussed a relationship and at first I was happy and excited, but then panic began to set in.

You see he has some very toxic traits- though he has been working really hard to do better. One of his biggest issues being anger. He tends to have very angry outbursts, but again hes been working on it.

Theres also the fact that I am on the asexual spectrum (I'm demisexual) and he is not. He is also not a virgin and I am. If we got into a relationship I worry about this a lot. He is very respectful and fully believes no one should ever feel pressured into sex and told me he was fine with waiting- but then immediately asked how long I thought we would wait. When I told him I was unsure he said he was ok with that, but i worry he isn't as ok with it as he claims.

He's a very sex minded person and I am not. I'd rather just sit and talk and maybe cuddle. I know that he wants more but I'm not ready now and im scared that im never going to be, if only because if we got into a relationship I worry this would cause problems.

Ultimately I know we probably aren't a good fit, and maybe I should move on, but it's been 10 years of being in love with him and only getting small crushes on others along the way. We have been through a lot and I can just never seem to get rid of my feelings for him. I'm not sure what to do. I love him a lot, and I think he loves me too but I also fear we are better off apart.

I told him I thought we would be better as friends and he accepted it, to a point. He still tends to get a little flirty since he knows I like him now. I know he really wants a relationship, and I do too. But I worry I'm just not ready for any of it. I want to be with him but I also.... don't. I'm not sure we would be any good for each other. I just cant seem to let go, but I can't make up my mind to hold on either.

I'm sorry this is mostly rambling. I really hope at least some of this makes sense, i really need some advice. No matter how I try to run from this problem it won't go away.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:25 am
by Heather
Hey there. I'm glad you came to ask about this.

Everything I see you very clearly saying is that to enter into an intimate relationship with this person would be to enter into something where you know, from the start, there's a great deal of incompatibility; where you know, from the start, it would likely be unhealthy because there is someone in it who does not seem to be an emotionally healthy person; where you know, from the start, it's even potentially going to be an abusive relationship.

I hear you being very clear that you know this would not be good for you. I strongly encourage you to listen to yourself in that. I agree with you.

I don't think that you have to get rid of your feelings for him, exactly. But I also think that simply making a firm decision with yourself -- and him -- that whatever your feelings, you are not going to pursue an intimate relationship with this person, might help you make a big step towards letting go of your attachment to those feelings and to the possibility of exploring them in intimacy with this person. It might also help you resolve some of these feelings by seeing if you can't figure out why you're so drawn to someone who doesn't....sound great. In quite a few ways, and I am not sure you're seeing them very clearly.

For instance, it IS pressuring someone -- and gaslighting them, to boot -- to say you'll wait when it comes to sex then start asking about how long you might have to wait. That's not respectful. That's coercive and manipulative, especially if he's doing that while telling you he is being respectful (again, gaslighting).

Too, someone earnestly working on an anger management problem would, if they were really doing that work and doing it in a way at all likely to be effective (read: with qualified help of some kind), not be pursuing new intimate relationships until they knew they were far enough on the other side of that work to be a safe and healthy partner. I don't see him expressing that care or concern at all.

One of the reason I'm saying these things is that I feel like a reflective perspective from someone else on what you have said might help you to see this a bit differently. I hear that you have real concerns, and I'm glad. But I'm not sure you're as concerned as you should be.

Do you want to talk about what your relationship with this person is now? Are you close friends? Do you spend a lot of time together? Also, do you want to talk about the feelings you have for this person and why you think they are so strong; why you think you're so attached to them?

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 3:51 pm
by Stressandepres
Thank you so much for this reply. This has been something I've been struggling with for a while and I didnt know where to go.

We are close friends, in fact when we were kids I considered him my best friend. We grew apart for a time but I've since become best friends with his sister (which is a whole 'nother can of complicated) and we became friends again. We don't spend as much time together as we used to, as i have been trying to distance myself, but I tend to at least see him like once a week when I'm with my friend.

And why i feel so strongly is something I've thought about a LOT especially lately. I think it's a mix of many things. Such as I remember him a lot as the really sweet kid he was when I first knew him, and I know that person is still in there. That being said I might also be holding onto a phantom that isn't there. I don't think it helps that I've had so much outside influence talking about what great of a guy he is, and so many say we would be a really good couple. Even my own family.

I guess as far as men go he's also the only man I really feel comfortable around? I tend to attract a lot of really toxic people, and that goes tenfold for men. This guy however, I never feel like I have to have my guard up, in a physical sense at least. Emotionally, as you said he's not really healthy. He came from an abusive home, but in his world it was normal, so he refuses to get professional help, he claims he doesn't need it. He was going to at one point, but I'm not sure what happened there.

All in all, I really don't know why I feel so strongly about him. I have other friends who can make me feel safe or make me laugh as he does, but I feel nothing for them. I'm a smart person, I know he is toxic, I know that he has shown so many red flags and signs of a potential abuser. I don't know, maybe I have a bit of a saviour complex and think somehow I can help him if we were together. But I know logically that also isn't true. But it's also really hard to let go of someone you've sort of always thought as 'the one' for damn near your entire life.

I'm sorry this got a bit rambly. I'm genuinely trying to parse through my thoughts because I don't even understand it.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 5:35 pm
by Gone.Sorry.
I think taking some distance from him is a really smart and healthy idea. It can be really hard to let go of and move past strong feelings, like a crush, if you're constantly in someone's presence and being with them. Taking some space can help you get new perspective and help those strong, intense feelings become a little less strong and intense to help you move on from this long-term crush.

How have you felt since taking some distance from him? Has it been helping you feel like your desires are easier to control and make decisions regarding him? Are you still feeling a little stuck regarding these feelings? Do you think getting more space from him would help more?

It's really mature of you to recognize the unhealthy patterns he has and how you don't want to get too involved with him as a result. It's hard not to want to see people you love grow and be happier, but we can't force people to get help that they don't really want to get, unfortunately. I think you have really human feelings regarding your friend. Of course it's hard to let go of something and someone that's been a part of your life for so long! But by recognizing his unhealthy patterns and how you don't want to get caught up in those, it'll be easier for you to disentangle. I think you're taking some good steps for yourself here, and that's awesome.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 6:31 pm
by Stressandepres
For a while after gaining distance I felt sort of guilty because I never let him know what was going on, but ultimately I thought it was good I was keeping distance. But after about a month passed I found I just missed him. A lot. And I just felt better when I was near him, even just as friends.

I'm definitely still stuck with these feelings and I cant really figure out why. I've spent time near him and apart from him, but ultimately these feelings never seem to fade. I suppose it probably doesn't help that he is such a massive part of my life though. Even if I can keep distance from him, I always wind up hearing about him from my friend, which is fair as that's her brother.

I'm not sure how much distance will help, I think I need to just stop sitting on the fence about him so much. I think some part of me is waiting for him to change, and doesnt want to let go in case he does.

I feel pretty ridiculous about it, not gonna lie. I've always been a very logical person but when it comes to him it's like I just cant seem to see the picture properly. Logically I know I should try to keep as much distance as I can, and not get involved. But something in the back of my head also can't help going "what if?"

Like what if I'm missing out on the so called 'one' or, what if I never get over him? What if I never feel so strongly for someone again? It's all very illogical, but the thoughts won't go away, even though I /know/ they have no basis. I don't know, it's all so frustrating. It was easier to ignore my feelings before I knew he felt the same, now it feels nearly impossible.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:16 am
by Sam W
I hear you on how frustrating it can be to find that your emotions won't line up with the things you know are logical or sound choices for you.

I want to address those "what if's" you mention at the end of your post, because having some new ways of framing them might be helpful. There's a lot of cultural weight put on the idea of finding, "the one," but when we look at how relationships and connection play out in the real world, we find that's not actually that common. Instead, there are multiple people in the world who we could form a lasting, healthy, romantic relationship with. Which, if any, of those people we choose to actually have a relationship with depends on things like timing, location, and chance. That's why you can have people who lose who they thought was "the one" (either through a break-up or divorce or something like a partner dying) who go on to find other relationships that are just as good, and sometimes even better. Does that make sense?

Too, in your specific situation, if your brain starts going "but what if he's the one," it may help to remember that he's actually demonstrated reasons to you why he isn't a good partner for you, period. In fact, he's shown he's not a safe person to enter into a relationship with.

That part of you that's still waiting on him to change makes a lot of sense, given that you've had strong feelings for him, had outside voices telling you he's a good match, and had a period where you thought maybe the thing you wanted (a romantic relationship with him) was going to work. I think a way to start letting go of that hope that he'll change is to remind yourself that he's shown he's not willing to put in the work to do that. If someone is serious about managing their anger, or unlearning the things they may have picked up in an abusive home, they'll be willing to do the work, like therapy, to address it. But since he shows no interest in that process, the odds of him being able to change in a meaningful way are low.

Can you give me a sense of what your other close relationships are like right now? Are there people in your life who you like spending time with who aren't also connected to him in some way?

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:58 am
by Heather
I also always want to disavow people of this idea of "the one," for a whole bunch of reasons.

One of the biggest is that it is very, very unlikely that you will only have one intimate relationship in your lifer that is profoundly important to you. What's more realistic -- and yay for this, obviously! -- is that you will have at least a few of those, of not more. Chances are also good that those won't all be the same kinds of relationships, yet will all be very intimate and will all be very important to you and your life.

The idea that there is a "one" is based on a whole lot of things -- and most of them considerably not-good -- but one thing it isn't based on is most people's realities.

I also want to say that from the sounds of things, you're going to miss out on a super-amazing relationship with this person no matter what, at least anytime soon. In other words, he's explicitly told you he thinks he does need to do some work when it comes to his growth and his ability to do things that are essential in a healthy relationship, let alone a great one, like manage his anger. This person doesn't appear to be someone currently available for the kind of relationship you want with them.

Hey, maybe you're right and maybe that feeling you have is that there IS a great relationship between you and this guy in your future. But if so, it sounds like you might be talking about a couple decades down the road, not now, and for that to be an option, this person still has his own work to do, very much without you. You can't be someone's Yoda (not even their super-adorable baby Yoda) and have a monster crush on them, you know?

Of course, it may also be that you have these feelings because you have *already* had the relationship with him you are going to. In other words, it might well be you have had what the things was going to be already in your lives, and this attachment now is to that relationship and those experiences. In other words, you two have already obviously had a relationship -- a friendship -- on and off and he has already had a big place in your life. But perhaps now, especially as it sounds like he's been growing into someone who isn't the same person that was with -- that's over, and why you're holding on so hard is just because you're having a hard time detaching. Also a possibility.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:00 pm
by Stressandepres
Thank you again for the very thoughtful replies, it really does mean a lot.

Firstly; as for relationships away from him, I dont really have any? His siblings are my closest friends- more like family than anything to me. I have internet friends but no irl friends outside of them. I've always been a pretty isolated person, I don't make lasting friends easily, mainly because I don't really know where to even begin? I'm not in school, and I'm not employed at the moment, i don't really know how to make more friends at this point- though my best friend has encouraged me to try to meet new people the only suggestion for where to meet people is to get a job and meet people through that.

As for heather's comments - you're right, he is a different person and I am struggling to detach. I've thought about this almost endlessly, but I just cant seem to figure out how to detach. I know logically if i had more friends away from that group that might help- but as i mentioned i don't really know /how/

I know I need to figure out how to detach, i know this isn't healthy right now, and it may well never be. Theres so much i know logically but for some reason i can't help but hold on.

Also you're right, i suppose i never thought about how if he was 'the one' things would be a bit healthier wouldnt they? And i know the idea of chasing after the one isn't the healthiest view, but it's still sort if always there in the back of my mind. It's a bit freeing to think that if they're really 'the one' it wouldn't be so toxic though. So thank you for that.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:21 pm
by Heather
I'm glad they're helping you out.

By all means, if these people have been -- as it sounds -- literal family for you, then of course you feel very attached to them! Too, if the idea of starting new relationships is extra daunting, that certainly is another likely and understandable reason you might feel so attached to this. If you want these people to be and stay your family, then I can also understand how your mind has affixed itself to the notion one of these siblings must be "your one," because, of course, in that fantasy -- especially when it's heteronormative -- we then become a solidified part of a family.

So, I wonder if tonight you might think about this: if you really want to be like family with this family, you can do that just as you have been, as friends. You know, I have an ex who I have now been friends with far longer than we were together, and their family never stopped treating me like family (I just visited them last month as a matter of fact), even though most of the time we have known each other, I have been one of Mark's best friends, not Mark's romantic partner.

How about if you get to pursue intimate relationships with people who are way more likely to offer you something healthy (including because your attachment to them might be a little healthier on your own part: wanting to be with someone because the idea of having to meet other people is daunting isn't exactly a healthy basis for a relationship, all other bits aside for the moment) and have those but ALSO still have these folks as your family? You don't have to choose, after all.

I have to head out, but if you want to start having a conversation about how to pursue relationships and meet people, we can absolutely do that! If nothing else, I'd certainly like you to be feeling like you have options when it comes to your intimate relationships, rather than like it has top be these folks because you don't know how to meet anyone else. You deserve more than this, you know?

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:50 pm
by Stressandepres
You have given me a lot to think about, and I sort of already feel like a bit of weight has been lifted off my shoulders being able to actually finally talk about this.

I know I do really need to make some new friends, but every friend I have ever made has been through school, or church activities. But I don't do any of that anymore, so I'm sort of lost on that account. I also have social anxiety so the idea of meeting new people is quite daunting. Not to mention I live in a very conservative city, and I am part of the lgbt community, so I'm always really hesitant with the new people i do manage to meet.

I think i would like to look more into how to pursue relationships and meet people. I think it will probably do me a world of good. Thank you.

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:17 pm
by Gone.Sorry.
It does feel really hard to figure out how to meet people when you don't have something like school or an activity you're participated in most your life!

Something you can do is get out and try new things. Check out your area's There can be a wide variety - and some oddly specific - groups that organize through meetup, so there's a good bet you might find something that interests you! If a group seems pretty big/diverse, you might find it easier to just show up to their next scheduled get together. I know one thing that helps me when I'm afraid to try something new with new people is getting to "scout" ahead of time. So, when going to a new place, I check it out a couple days ahead of time or give myself plenty of time to get there early, so I can find the place, find the entrance, etc. You might even be able to contact an organizer with questions (for example, it can help me to ask about the atmosphere a group has together or just to double check that an event is happening at x time in x place). Most things I've seen are offered for free, so those could be an easy way for you to get out and meet some new people!

Facebook can also be a good way to find cheap/free local events! Browse the events for your area. You can find a wide variety of things to try doing this and can find some really interesting ones you might not have thought about trying on your own!

Another thing you can do is just go searching for new opportunities. Do you enjoy working out? Ever been curious about martial arts? Have a gym in your area that offers some interesting workout classes you'd be willing to try? Usually gyms offer a free class or a couple of free classes, so you could pick a class you want to try, go to it, and see what the atmosphere is like and if you want to keep trying it for a few more classes (or beyond)! Something like this can be less pressure because the focus isn't on socializing - it's on the workout. So, if you're finding the socializing awkward, it won't last too long because you'll be starting the next exercise soon and you can disappear after the class ends. (Though I find that lingering after a class, even just to listen to others who've been there longer and know each other well, is a great way to start making some relationships with people attending. People start remembering your face when you hang around and usually start trying to include you in conversations and such.)
How do you feel about art? Look up your local art studios, ceramic painting places, etc. Do they do any events or offer any classes? Pick one you're interested in and show up to that! Again, the pressure is off having to socialize, but you may also meet some fun people there. At the very least, you'll get out of the house and will have met new people, and that in itself can feel huge and important and even empowering.

Volunteering is also a great way to expand your horizons and get out there to meet new people! (It'll also look good on your resume if you volunteer for a good chunk of time, if building up your resume is something you're looking to do.) Any local food banks or soup kitchens looking for help? How about your local hospital? Local animal shelter? Maybe even the local zoo or aquarium has some volunteer or intern opportunities. Does your city's webpage list any volunteer opportunities?

Since you're LGBT+, are there any LGBT+ organizations in your area? Do they have regular meetings or volunteer opportunities? This would be a great way to meet people that you know are more knowledgeable and accepting of LGBT+ issues.

There's a lot of options out there to you that you probably don't even realize are available to you! Finding something you're excited about might help encourage you to get out and meet new people more often.

Since you have social anxiety, I know many of these may seem hard/daunting, but at least look into them and do some research about them. It helps me sometimes if I get myself informed and then give myself time to get used to the idea of trying whatever it is, then making a specific plan for a sort of deadline to set myself. It took me several weeks to join my current gym, but now I absolutely love it, the people are so accepting, and I'm completely comfortable going there. So, give yourself time and do what you can! Are you seeing a therapist or any other professional about your social anxiety? Do you have some methods in place that help you cope with and get through life with your social anxiety?

Re: I love him but is it time to let go?

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 11:14 am
by Heather
You know, it's funny, I was going to say that I understood it was daunting when you have social anxiety, but then I realized you hadn't said it. But now you have, so there we go. :)

horriblegoose gave you a GREAT start there, that's a lot of what I'd have said! What province and city are you in, if you don't mind me asking? I'm friends and colleagues with a lot of people who are queer themselves and/or work in LGBTQ+ things, so we could probably find you some good community stuff to check out.