- 2 years ago
- Wedding: December 1969
Hi all, please bear with me as I’m new here and this is my first post. 🙂
I am 22 years old, and I’ve been with my boyfriend for just short of 7 years. I am currently completing my last semester of college before I receive my bachelors degree, and he is working 2 hours away in our hometown with a steady job, and has recently started going to school part-time. As you may have already gathered, SO is my first boyfriend. We started dating when I was 15 (as was he), and we have survived 7 years together (I say “survived” because we have been through many, many struggles both individually and in our relationship). Just to give some background, we come from very different lives: I am an inner city girl, studying music. I consider someone who chases passion in life, and I am unhappy if I feel that need is unfullfilled. I seek adventure (for better or worse), consider myself quite liberal in my upbringing and values, and most importantly I measure my own quality of life based on the connections that I have with other people, with myself and with my surroundings. He, on the other hand, grew up in the country and is working a mechanical trade job. He has more conservative values than I do (though this has not even been much of an issue), has a strong work ethic (one that I believe is almost excessive), and is very practical in nature. He has been working night shifts (10pm-7am) for the past 4 years and it has really taken a toll on our relationship. He has no hopes of moving to a better shift for at least 10-15 years, and I can’t imagine ever trying to start a family that way. We are a large part of each others’ families, and I absolutely love him family with all of my heart. For the longest time, I could not wait to officially be a part of his family.
Something I always have grappled with is a lack of connection on an intellectual level with him – We don’t care about any of the same topics, we don’t share any hobbies (although we’ve tried countless times to “get into” hobbies together), and I don’t feel emotionally satisfied because he simply cannot provide the type of affection and support that I need as a considerably emotional person. He feels “closed off” to me, and I’ve learned not to take it personally, because it’s just the way he is. I know what I mean to him, but I don’t know if I can live with someone who absolutely can’t express it. On the other hand, he has become increasingly frustrated with me over the past couple years because I have become gradually less and less interested in sex. I do have to say that this is partially corellated with his decline in self-maintenance and I have become less attracted to him over the years. However, the main reason that I’ve lost interest in sex is a history with sexual abuse as a child, and flashbacks that I have frequently started having over the course of the past year that appear during intimacy with him. I struggle with anxiety, and the mixture of the guilt/pressure that I feel from him (he is often very pushy with me) when I’m not interested makes me associate these experiences with the past, and my lack of attraction to him has made it nearly impossible.
In the past year, things have become especially difficult. We have had numerous conversations about the future of our relationship, and have discussed breaking up a few times, for multiple reasons. Neither of us have decided that our problems are worth breaking up over, but we are both stubborn people, and I’m afraid that we’ve been holding on to each other out of fear. Last semester, after falling into a deep depression over a failed friendship that was crucial to my happiness here at school, I decided to take a risk and rebuild my entire social circle. It was the best decision I could have made. I did change quite a bit – I began having more fun, I partied frequently on the weekends, and became very focused on my social life (something that was always secondary to my relationship before then). I was about 2 years into my doubts about SO concerning our lack of emotional connection. I happened to meet someone who became a friend, and shortly after this friend expressed an interest in a relationship. I was honest with him and talked with him extensively about my problems with SO. Romantically, nothing ever happened between us, but I was left with the knowlege that I did see this friend as someone who was “just my type” and “just right”, and I’ve been struggling with not knowing what we could have been had I taken a risk instead of remaining in a healthy, but rather boring and unhappy relationship. I chose safety and stability over my own personal desires and needs.
Another major issue with SO was our plans for the future – I grew up always knowing that one day I want to get married. For me, this is a requirement for the relationship that I choose to commit the rest of my life to. I have never been afraid of the idea of committment, and for a while I was extremely hurt over the fact that he hadn’t proposed already. The situation with my friend last semester made me reconsider. I now know that at age 22 I’m not ready for that committment. However, conversations with SO over the past few months have led me to believe it’s never going to happen. He has told me during every conversation that he does not want to get married ever in his life. I told him that if this was the absolute truth, it would not be okay with me. He eventually told me that he would get married, only if it meant me leaving him if he didn’t. He knows I’m the person he wants to spend his life with, but marriage is something he is strongly opposed to. I know that even if he does propose one day, it will still be YEARS from now, and I honestly do feel like I’ve spent enough time in this relationship to deserve a clearer perspective on the future than that. Also, I don’t want to feel like he’s proposing because he’s being forced to, but I already know that this will be the case. I’m not sure I could handle a marriage with that knowledge.
Because I am just beginning my professional life soon, I also need to acknowledge my own personal goals for the future. I am required to complete a 6 month internship in my field, and I’m not sure where I will be doing the internship yet. There’s a chance that I may get an internship in my hometown where SO lives, but there’s also just as good of a chance that I will either be moving across the state or the country. I honestly am excited about the idea of moving far away and being independent for a while, and I feel like I need that life experience in order to grow. I told him this, and (rightfully so) he is worried that I don’t intend on continuing the relationship when I go away. I am still unsure of what I would decide.
To add one last development (in the past couple days, which prompted me to make this post) we are both seriously considering going into the army reserves. I began talking about it and speaking with them first, and then he met up with a recruiter yesterday to talk with them. I feel that this would be especially beneficial to me, as I may not be starting my internship for half a year and I have time to dedicate to this pursuit. I absolutely need to go grad school for my profession, and I could really use the assitance with paying for it, as I did choose a rather “financially risky” profession. In addition, I would be a member of the band and it would be great for my resume. The issue is this – because I will enter with a bachelors degree, I will enter ranking as an officer, whereas SO would enter as a lower rank. Legally officers are not allowed to date lower ranking people, and the only exception is marriage. Suddenly SO seemed interested in considering the idea of marriage, and I politely declined, saying that I would not ever get married for any reason other than SO legitimately wanting to marry me. I feel offended by this, and the fight over “who get to enlist and who doesn’t” and “is this worth breaking up over” is making me feel like no matter how much we struggle to make things work, it simply will not work.
I do love this man with all of my heart. He’s my absolute best friend and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. However, I don’t know if I feel like I’m “IN love” with him anymore (and I have no way of knowing how a normal 7 year relationship is supposed to feel, considering I’m 22 and none of my friends have experienced anything remotely similar to this). I know that we could make things “work” but I don’t know if the cost is too high. He is an amazing man, and I would hate to walk away from him and everything that we’ve built together. I just feel stuck in a relationship that has gone way over my head. While I love him, I know that I shouldn’t be worried about these things as a 22 year old. I resent the fact that my life didn’t “develop” at a pace considered to be normal, and I feel like I’m a young woman stuck in the mind of a woman far beyond my years.
I know this is a lot of information, and I really REALLY appreciate anyone who reads it and has any comments or advice to offer. I feel like I’m at a point where I need to make a decision -take it or leave it- and I could really use a push in the right direction.