I love my boyfriend to death. He’s an amazing man and I often think about what I did to deserve having him in my life. But every couple months, he’ll have this huge existential crisis where he says he’s not truly happy, he hates his life, and everything is just so hard for him. He always says he doesn’t know what he’d do without me, since I’m the only thing in his life that makes him happy. I know this sounds selfish of me, but I feel like that puts a lot of pressure on me and our relationship to always be happy and perfect. I feel like I’m not allowed to have a bad day or talk about problems in our relationship because I’m afraid that, in his mind, “problem in our relationship” means “I’m headed out the door”. He also has kind of a short temper, and I’m afraid he’ll take things personally. I really try to be there for him and keep my issues with the relationship under wraps for his sake, but I don’t know how long I can hold in my feelings until I snap. What should I do?
Let’s set your boyfriend aside for a second. We’ll talk about him later, but it sounds like he’s already getting plenty of attention. (Maybe even all of the attention?) Instead, let’s talk about you, because no matter how bad your boyfriend’s day might have been or what’s going on in his head, or why he was so unhappy on Thursday or last Monday, what’s going on for you, today, is that you are not in a healthy relationship.
To recap what you wrote: You feel as if you can’t be honest because you live in fear that your hot-tempered boyfriend is going to erupt or leave you if you acted naturally. You feel as if you can’t ever be anything less than happy or perfect. And you seem to have been willing, at least up until now, to bottle up all of your feelings, problems, fears, and worries, because, in your relationship, they’re not as valid as your partner’s. Anything else, you feel, would be selfish. In your most intimate relationship—the relationship in which you should feel most free to be yourself—you feel you can’t be yourself. That’s a problem.
I don’t have to tell you this is a problem because you told me yourself. But I have to say that you deserve to be in a healthier relationship with someone who can accept you on your bad days too. In a good relationship, someone will make those bad days better. Ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be nice if someone cared about you just as much as you cared about them? Wouldn’t it feel good to know that someone has your back?
As for your boyfriend: I’m skeptical that you can make this work with him. This kind of dynamic is rarely just in someone’s head. (Believing that you have to perfect is almost never your fault.) When you say your boyfriend has a hot temper, I believe you. And I don’t see any signs that his problems are temporary. His short temper and selfishness and lack of empathy aren’t circumstantial. They’re character issues. If you think he’s going to become a different sort of man and partner, what’s your evidence?
When you suspect that he might blow up and head “out the door,” your instincts might be right—and it’s probably better to admit that he can’t handle a real relationship with a real human being who’s got her own ups and downs. If he can’t change, it’s healthier to admit that now, rather than make yourself miserable by hoping and waiting while he continues to scare you into silence.
That said, I know you think this guy is “amazing” in some ways. Maybe he’s just so caught up in his own head that he’s unable to see you (and your relationship) clearly. But if you want to make this relationship work, you have to draw a line, talk this out, and explain that if he wants to be with you on the good days, he’s got to be there for you on the bad days too. I know confrontation can be scary with a hot-tempered partner, you’ve got to demand the relationship you deserve. Who knows, maybe he’ll step up. If he doesn’t, step away.
My boyfriend and I are 20 and come from a very ‘strict’ religious background which has strict rules against premarital sex. He has left our church, and I don’t know exactly where I’m at with our church. We recently got into a heated make-out session and things were about to get serious. I froze. I don’t know what to do or where I stand with premarital sex, or what I want, really. He was really sweet and caring when I stopped, but I worry that this could cause issues in our relationship. I want to talk to him about it, but I’m also unsure of what to say or what I want. What should I do?
I try not to give age-based advice because I don’t believe people get smarter or wiser or better at life just because they’ve been doing it longer. You aren’t a better cook just because you’ve boiled more spaghetti and you aren’t a better student because it takes you twice as long to finish homework. Learning isn’t passive; it’s active. But, as someone twice your age, I can remind you (and myself) of this: Especially at twenty—when everyone on Earth seems to be asking you to define exactly who you are and what you want—it’s okay to say, as you wrote to me, “I don’t know.” It’s okay to say it, even about things that are actually very important. It’s okay to say it to other people. It’s okay to say it to your parents. It’s okay to say it to your minister and your friends and even your boyfriend. Most important, it’s okay to say it to yourself. It’s okay to admit you don’t know what you want or how you feel about a great many things. And you don’t have to figure hardly any of it out on anyone else’s timeline.
Do you want to have premarital sex or not? You can just say, “I don’t know.”
You say you’re “unsure of what to say or what I want.” I say focus on what you want first and foremost and don’t worry as much about what to say, or whether not knowing will cause friction with a boyfriend. It may. But you can be honest with your boyfriend. You don’t have to promise him anything, including a decision by a certain date. You can tell him, “I don’t know how I feel about premarital sex right now. So I hope you can respect that and give me the time I need.” If you say that and you continue to feel pressured by him, you should respectfully but firmly remind him that his timeline is not your timeline: “I’m not going to have sex until it feels like the right thing for me.” Be aware of the difference between lust and a lack of respect: It’s fine for him to be horny and to tell you how much he wants you, but it’s not cool for him to tell you that what you’re feeling is illegitimate or wrong or that he’s going to break up with you if you don’t have sex (translation: I’ll break up with you either way, but I’ll break up with you sooner if we don’t have sex…).
If he doesn’t respect you, he doesn’t deserve to date you. As for how, when and who you decide to have sex with for the first time, that’s a deeply personal decision. The right time is whenever you feel it’s right. But there’s no rush and there are plenty of virgins your age.
However, it sounds like your boyfriend is “sweet and caring.” Since you’ve gone to the same church in the past, he knows where you’re coming from in all kinds of ways. He may understand you more than you think. It’s easy to make a big deal about sex, but, up until now, your relationship has been sexless: It hasn’t been about sex at all and you’ve still connected. So it doesn’t have to suddenly fall apart just because you tell him you’re waiting until you feel more certain. If he does feel this is a dealbreaker for him, you talk about that—and it’s probably a dealbreaker for you too. But I doubt that’s the case.
I identify as an asexual straight woman and I can’t help but think that it’s hopeless for me to date and find a partner. I have tried Tinder and Bumble but whenever I get a match or go on dates I know already that their end game is sex. I don’t want to deceive anyone so I have tried to put “ace” [Editor’s note: shorthand for asexual] on my profile, but that doesn’t seem to attract anyone that I like. I have tried to have sex with my first boyfriend (that “relationship” lasted for less than a month) but I just couldn’t get in the mood no matter how hard I wanted to satisfy him. I don’t want to deceive anyone or restrain their sex drive but I can’t help but think that guys my age (21) only want sex. Should I even try with dating apps? And if I do, how long do I have to wait until I tell them that sex is out of the picture with me?
Is it hopeless for you, as someone who identifies as asexual, to date and find a partner online? Hell no.
I’m not surprised that you’ve been disappointed by guys who only want sex. Tinder doesn’t guarantee that any date will be any fun, or even bearable—not for anyone. But would it be any different anywhere else? Wherever you look for a date, you’re just playing the odds.
You’re in an unusual situation, but everyone’s unusual in some way. And unusual people keep finding other unusual people. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. It may harder. But online dating is hard for everyone.
The best a site like Tinder or Bumble can do is help people set up a first date. First dates are generally lame and very few lead to true love. No algorithm can fix this. And maybe your odds will be a little worse than the next woman’s. But so what? Online dating is also pretty good at connecting people who have particular needs, whether that’s wild kinks, or no kinks at all.
Practically speaking, my advice is to be patient: go on lots of dates and trust that it’s probably going to take a lot of dates before you find the right partner. (That’s my advice for everyone, by the way.)
You could spend a lot of time trying to figure out the best possible way to express your asexuality on your online dating profile—but I’d just recommend that you focus on everything else that makes you fascinating and attractive and, well, you. There’s a lot more to you than your disinterest in sex. And there are very few guys who are going to see your profile and date you because you’re asexual, but there are plenty who will date you because you seem amazing in other ways.
Also, when you do date online, don’t just wait around and hope that you attract the right kind of guy. Don’t just reply, try: Find the guys you like. Send the first email. Text or email a bit and if the vibe is aggressively sexual, ghost.
Once you’re on a date, you have no reason to discuss your asexuality before you’re comfortable. If you feel like you need to get it out there, talk about it. But my general advice is to save the sex talk for after the getting-to-know-you talk. When it comes to anything intimate, make sure you actually like your date, and might want to be intimate, first.