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Complicating issues in a new relationship, help!
February 10, 2004
8:45 am
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LadySun
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I am dating, long-distance, a very nice man. We have a lot in common and see each other for absolutely wonderful weekends every 3 weeks or so. We are keeping things low key because, we are both still feeling a bit gun shy from our previous marriages. The distance is good for me because it is helping me sort out my co-dependent behavior (for example, before I send him an e-mail I can ask myself if I am doing anything in it to force him to respond to me in a particular way or is it "free"?

Here is the thing:

He was married to a bipolar woman who cheated on him for some time, yet they had a supportive marriage otherwise. She seems to want to get back together with him. He says his feelings are ambivalent, he remembers the good and remembers the bad. I am curious that he could be ambivalent at all! The complicating factor is that she is into S and M and her cheating was done through multiple partners.

So my questions are this:

1. Does anyone know anything about S and M that would help me contextualize who he was in the relationship? That sort of behavior is not just physical it is also psychological. He seems so passive toward her. Is this typical in that sort of thing? One of things he is trying to do now is be more assertive of his own boundaries and feelings. I really like that, it helps me do the same. (We seem to be learning how to be healthy together in this relationship).

2. How should I handle this? Should I back off and give him space to figure out what he wants? I feel the need to protect myself emotionally from this, what if he decides to get back with her? Despite the newness of the relationship, it is really going to hurt. Hell, it hurts now. From a co-dep perspective, I do not at all understand how this plays into my own stuff. I do not want to push him, I cannot control what he does or what kinds of decisions he will make. Plus, I'd like to see whether or not he is really committed to getting psychologically healthy or not. But at the same time, I feel like I have to draw some boundaries myself. How do I balance this?

Thanks, LadySun

February 10, 2004
10:38 am
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Anonymous
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You have to make your own boundaries that you feel comfortable with. S & M is basically just that sadist masochist. He appears from what you have said, that he likes to be dominated, and that she is the aggressor. Some men like women to be in control. The thing though is that you are trying to get healthy, and it sounded like he was, but now he might get dragged back into something else. Ive done the long distance thing, and its nice, but you have to remember, you have no idea what that person is doing when you aren't there, and thats where the trust comes in, do you trust him? And if he is talking with his ex, that to me sounds a little suspicious.

February 10, 2004
10:40 am
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acj
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Well, LadySun:

You can't make someone want to be with you. I would probably give him space. Even in a relationship that is not complicated, it's still good to do your own thing. How long has he been seperated from her? Is there any possibility that he is on the rebound? Do they have kids together?

A friend of mine actually gave her guy a month away from her to decide what he wanted. They're married now but she told him that she wanted all of him or none of him and he eventually decided he was willing to do that for her. But that was him.

I probably would not be physical with him for a while until he was more "sure" about you two. And I know nothing about S & M except that sometimes it can be a "parent/child" relationship where one is submissive and one is agressive. Sounds like he is a little on the co-denpendent side, as well?? He was probably the submissive one.

Wish I could help more but this should at least give you something else to think about.

acj

February 10, 2004
11:27 am
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Zinnie
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Echoing the above... especially about NOT being physical with him, not only for a while - BUT until he has had a physical and given a clean bill of health. AND shared the results with you, by letting you see the "clean bill" in writing.

S & M involving multiple parters can be sexually dangerous disease-wise (as can any sexual activity with more than one partner), so please at least do this.

Also, if I were you I would look into this practice and see if this is really someone that you choose to be with, as some of the things that I have heard about the subject may make you uncomfortable.

Good Luck,

Z.

February 10, 2004
12:05 pm
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LadySun
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Thanks everyone,

I should have been more clear. He is not into S and M, she was. He complied with her physical needs to some extent for her sake (but clearly not enough for her). There is no hint of that between us, and he has said it is not his thing. I just thought that I sensed it with him psychologically, and I think you all have confirmed that suspicion.

He's had the full workup and is clean, and we practice safe sex.

His ex lives in another state from him and they see each other a couple of times a year and talk about as much. I trust him not to act on it without making clear to me that he is going back to her first. He is trustworthy there.

The passivity thing is bothersome, though, and he may feel more comfortable being in that sort of unhealthy relationship rather than trying to change otherwise.

I think the advice you all have given me is right on the money. I think what I'll do is step back, but also ask him to be straight with me so I can make an informed decision for myself.

He ain't the only fish--and clearly isn't the healthiest, when I am doing my damndest to get well I could use a person committed to psychological health--I feel comfortable, yet still disappointed, standing back and accepting that this may very well not work out.

February 10, 2004
8:05 pm
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LadySun
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I spoke to him and offered him space and to be straight with me. He decided to break up, that he needed to sort things out. He doesn't want to get back together with the ex, but he does need to sort all his feelings out on his own. This hurts, but also I know that it is right. So, I'm off to have a good cry. LadySun

February 10, 2004
9:32 pm
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Squeezles
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*hugs* Sorry, LadySun.

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