• Activity
  • Votes
  • Comments
  • New
  • All activity
  • Showing only topics with the tag "relationships". Back to normal view
    1. What have you learned from losing someone?

      “Losing” can mean a death, or falling out of touch, or damaging a relationship past a point of repair, or anything else you feel fits. What have you learned? How did it change you? Previous...

      “Losing” can mean a death, or falling out of touch, or damaging a relationship past a point of repair, or anything else you feel fits.

      What have you learned?
      How did it change you?


      Previous questions in series:

      What have you learned from...
      ...being a parent?
      ...going through a breakup?
      ...moving to a new place?
      ...working in tech?
      ...going through a pandemic?
      …being LGBT?

      These threads remain open, so feel free to comment on old ones if you have something to add!

      9 votes
    2. Sex, longing, ambivalence, purpose

      I'm 22 years old and have recently graduated from college. I'm a little disoriented right now. I'd appreciate some help. I'm having trouble explaining my issue precisely, but it relates to these...

      I'm 22 years old and have recently graduated from college. I'm a little disoriented right now. I'd appreciate some help. I'm having trouble explaining my issue precisely, but it relates to these themes: SEX, LONGING, AMBIVALENCE, PURPOSE. I feel I must provide some anecdotes for my question(s) to make sense.


      In the wintertime, I made a new friend. She had pitch-black hair. We had exchanged any number of glances from across the room. She caught me one morning as I left the hall and asked if I liked [REDACTED_MEDIA]. I humored her: "Sure, as much as anyone. … No, I've not seen it. … Yes, I'll check it out." The following week I reported back with my opinions, and we spoke a great deal, warming to one another as the days remained icy.

      One day I offered to take her to [REDACTED_EVENT]. She didn't come, but regretted it, and gave me a phone number as reparation. She was a little embarrassed, but I found it endearing; I was quite happy to see more of her. From here the courtship was a breeze. On a Saturday we took a drive into the country and strolled along a quiet, wooded trail, a respite from our world of books and burdens. As we rested by a stream, talking about trivialities, she laid out a moment of trauma before me. She was not looking for answers to an unanswerable tragedy so much as a good listener. I obliged, and held her closely as we walked home. She appreciated the comfort.

      From here the romance was a breeze. One invitation to study at hers and we were having unbelievable sex. She was very beautiful. We would spend an entire day together, ignoring our responsibilities and enjoying each other's bodies. Never in my life had I indulged in such things as she asked for. I think it actually changed some of my brain chemistry. It was exciting, it was fun, and it was very satisfying—for both of us. I also thought our conversation was authentic and emotionally fulfilling. Apparently she did not share that feeling, because she broke up with me (suddenly) a couple weeks in. Her exact reasons were a little strange, but I was not going to push it. We said our goodbyes, and I walked home in the bitter cold, alone.

      I hadn't known her long enough to be debilitatingly heartbroken, but it did hurt. And maybe I'm just being naïve, but I question whether it's possible for a future relationship to beat that sex. This prompts a greater existential question: "So why bother?"


      Some time ago, a dear friend invited me to her home in a city I no longer called mine. We dined and spoke of our passing lives: exciting and intimidating in their opportunity; tiring and burdensome in their demands. There were so many choices ahead; work gave enough but took too much. It was a relief to be free from the school; it was lonely. But it warmed my heart to be in her company again.

      She drew me to her bed and closed the door. I sat, and we chatted. Her expectation was obvious and the reason for my passivity was not—the dance of intimacy was familiar to both of us. After a pause, she faced me and said, "We can sleep together, but I don't want you to stay the night."

      Her request was reasonable, but I found it deeply jarring. Sex had not really motivated my visit, though I had entertained the possibility, and it had certainly not motivated my behavior at dinner. (I had planned already where I would be sleeping that night, and it was far away.) I had missed her a lot. More than anything I had missed her presence. Her statement revealed a terrible disparity in how we viewed our relationship. It was my fault for not stepping out after dinner, and it was particularly my fault across many months prior for setting a series of expectations that effectively downplayed my emotional feelings.

      I acknowledged her and quickly changed the top of conversation, and for a moment it was as though nothing had been said. Then, with another pause, she leaned over for a kiss. My heart was not in it. All I could hear was "I don't want you..." Still, I could not refuse. I had been sliced open, but she was very pretty, and more importantly I was reluctant to disappoint the people I cared for. The sex that followed felt passionless and transactional—different from before. She seemed impatient. I was distressed. It was consensual, but it was really weird and I did not enjoy it.

      I walked out of that house wishing I could cry. It was not the time. I could betray no weakness here or the city would devour me. I did cry, later. And maybe I'm just being naïve, but this incident made me question whether it's possible for a future relationship to beat the sentimental connection we had at the peak of our fling… including another go at it (that time has evidently passed). We were emotional matches/peers/equals in a way I don't know if I will ever find again. This prompts a greater existential question: "So why bother?"

      We're meant to see each other again quite soon, but this time the bed will be my own, and this time she'll stay the night. I couldn't say no when she asked. It's going to be awkward. I'm unsure what I wish to do.


      Not long ago, a friend asked near midnight if there was something happening between us. I froze up and sputtered something out about not expecting that question. I was genuinely unable to say anything for a few minutes. The answer that came to mind was kind of "Yes," but it was also, "I'm confused at this time and I don't know," and also, "This is going to hurt the group dynamic." I said yes but mumbled something about not getting her hopes up because I was pretty weird and also pretty uncertain about how I wanted to shape my life in the near and far future. I did not talk about the group dynamic.

      I'm proud of myself for making it clear that my wants are currently shifting and that my boundaries are unclear. I would've liked to be more specific. However, I'm not proud of saying yes before I had resolved all my emotional problems, nor about glossing over all my reservations. I feel it is irresponsible; I'm setting myself (and her) up to fail. I'm uncertain how to feel about the group dynamic. In the past year I've been the recipient of a lot of romantic attention with them and I've consistently said no. It is fine right now but it might not be fine if I change course like this.

      Last year I made a post on this website about three experiences I'd had and received a few comments. One of them in particular stuck with me:

      I will give you one piece of advice. There's absolutely nothing wrong with anything that you told us, but since you are young and reminds a bit of myself when I was your age, I'll say this: be careful not to inadvertently hurt anyone. Be explicit instead of implicit. People often have all kinds of expectations that differ from our own, so it's a good idea to let them know where they stand.

      I really did take that to heart. I don't want to hurt anyone. I am trying so hard not to ruin everything. I broke this advice soon after it was given to me and it severely damaged a friendship. It was not on purpose, but it was incredibly foolish. Since then, I've been extra careful not to lead people on and to be really clear about my needs (or at least I hope I have). But this is hard because I live a very social lifestyle and people seem to misinterpret friendliness as flirting. Or they just have opinions. I can't say this without sounding arrogant, so please forgive me, but people often comment admiringly on my appearance. It is obvious that they treat me differently because of it. It's not that weird (or that bad honestly) for an acquaintance my age to be a little bashful in front of me—but it feels different when it becomes an increasingly significant part of my reputation. I try not to touch people or to otherwise give them the wrong idea, but it seems like I am breeding longing/jealousy just by existing.

      Anyway, I feel I am struggling to move this relationship forward in part because I wasn't explicitly looking for one, and have been hit hard lately by general listlessness and uncertainty, so I wasn't prepared for it. And I'm also struggling to reconcile the physical needs of a new romance with my current incredible level of apathy toward sex. "Why bother?" I've never been this indifferent toward it before, it has always been important to me. The more I think about previous relationships, the less it seems like it's worth it to pursue anything at all. I would call it freeing to not care, except that it's fundamentally concerning. It stems from bad memories and also I think some trauma I haven't really resolved, which is not the same as "letting loose and living my life." It's been physically difficult for me to even think about sex and to be honest the thought is occasionally a little revolting to me, which I have never felt before, at least not for an extended period. And I feel like I'm too irrevocably closed-off to ever sufficiently open up emotionally in a relationship to make it last long-term. But… I also know what it feels like to fall into despair, not knowing what great things lie around the corner. This makes me reluctant to cut it off or make an ultimatum or actually do anything decisive at all.

      It's all just so much.


      None of that is really in question form, but it sort of explains my headspace. I'm sorry that I can't explain it better, but it's very late and I have work tomorrow. I would really appreciate some insight. Thanks.

      12 votes
    3. What are your favorite breakup albums?

      I'm not going through anything bad right now, I just feel like listening to some ugly-cry type of breakup albums. My picks: Sharon Van Etten: Are We There Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago Beck: Sea...

      I'm not going through anything bad right now, I just feel like listening to some ugly-cry type of breakup albums.

      My picks:

      9 votes
    4. What have you learned from going through a breakup?

      Question is for anyone who's ever gone through a breakup -- no matter how big or small. Also it goes for whether it was mutual, you were the one broken up with, or you had to be the one to break...

      Question is for anyone who's ever gone through a breakup -- no matter how big or small. Also it goes for whether it was mutual, you were the one broken up with, or you had to be the one to break the news.

      What did you learn from your breakup?
      How did it change you?

      Meta Note

      I have plans to do a series of these "what have you learned from ____" topics (see previous thread: "What have you learned from being a parent?"), where the blank is filled with specific roles/identities/experiences. I'll probably post one every couple of days, but I encourage anyone here to add their own to the series. If you've got one you want to post -- go for it!

      17 votes
    5. no subject

      2020. That's when I met her. To some of my close friends it sounds silly to them when I tell them we loved each other. It's hard for some people to grasp the intensity that a long distance...

      2020. That's when I met her.

      To some of my close friends it sounds silly to them when I tell them we loved each other. It's hard for some people to grasp the intensity that a long distance relationship can have. But I don't have anything to prove to anyone - I truly did love her.

      Being with an ace, I thought, would make things more complicated as I am not asexual myself. But if anything it made things simpler. It made the long distance easier to deal with. It made it easier to be patient. Easier to deal with her not being in my life all the time, because when push came to shove, she was in my life when I needed her to be. In fact, she was the main reason I labeled myself as polyamorous this year. I realised that I didn't want to pretend we were just friends anymore. I cared for her too much for that.

      In so little time, she changed me into a better person. She taught me subtleties about love, sex, relationships but also about life in general. She helped me through mental struggles. She was my first call when we got my SO’s sister out of Kyiv this year. In fact, the day of the war, we talked for over six hours in a row.

      She was always, always positive no matter the challenge. A true constant. Saw the flip side nobody else could see. No matter how ill she would get, she'd always brush it off and get back on her feet. In the two years I knew her, she had never made me cry, and her messages would always put a smile on my face.
      Difficulty tends to make people stronger. She's had an incredibly difficult life, and was the toughest person I knew.

      None of those challenges defined her. She was not defined by her gender, illness, sexuality. She was defined by her constant, absolute positivity. And her unending love for Korea.

      She believed, as I do, that we're all one entity - the universe experiencing itself. That her role here had been to spread love and positivity. I hope everyone here will be lucky enough to meet someone like her, at some point in their life.

      She was 30. The world is worse without her in it.

      33 votes
    6. What has helped you improve your relationships?

      Be it books, advice, tips, quotes, movies, activities, etc. Just anything that might've stuck and gave a new perspective on how to approach relationships. Specifically looking for things to help...

      Be it books, advice, tips, quotes, movies, activities, etc. Just anything that might've stuck and gave a new perspective on how to approach relationships.

      Specifically looking for things to help improve relationships with family (parents & siblings), but honestly advice for any relationship is welcome (friends, partners, etc.).

      Also thoughts on how/when to address topics such as mental health, diagnoses and sexuality or if they should be addressed at all.

      Thanks

      14 votes
    7. I bought an engagement ring today

      I bought an engagement ring for my girlfriend as I plan on proposing to her later this year. I haven't told too many people yet outside of my family, so I wanted to just post this somewhere...

      I bought an engagement ring for my girlfriend as I plan on proposing to her later this year. I haven't told too many people yet outside of my family, so I wanted to just post this somewhere because I'm super excited but have no where else to post. It was a good chunk of money but I had budgeted for it and it felt good to finally pull the trigger!

      33 votes
    8. Three experiences

      I'm 21 years old. I'm studying for a bachelor's degree at a very selective institution. I have a high-paying job lined up after I graduate in the spring. I'm physically active and in good health....

      I'm 21 years old. I'm studying for a bachelor's degree at a very selective institution. I have a high-paying job lined up after I graduate in the spring. I'm physically active and in good health. I see my friends and family regularly. I'm able to do most of my hobbies often, and I enjoy them. I've been in therapy for a long time for no specific reason and making little specific progress.

      I apologize if this is in the wrong section. I've been unable to stop writing for the past several hours and I must stop. This is where I feel it belongs the most.


      When I was 18, I noticed that I was going out of my way to make female friends, but not male friends. It may have been because I thought women were more attractive or likable, but my college dorm was mostly full of women, so maybe it was just statistics. In either case, my best friends were all men. We liked to do manly things, like drinking hard liquor, lifting heavy weights, and beating each other in wrestling matches. Over the next few years, I developed a very masculine, muscular body, which I took pride in both aesthetically and sexually. Women validated my physicality and spirit in speech and action. Acquaintances referred to me as a paragon of non-toxic masculinity.

      But I felt increasingly uncomfortable in male-dominated spaces, and I remember wishing that I could introduce myself as (she/her) rather than (he/him), even though that didn't really match who I was or how I felt. I enjoyed participating in activities that were full of women. I read Judith Butler and attended feminist lectures. I even took some classes at a women's college by way of a consortium. I did not cross-dress. I did not take hormones. I did not reject my identity as a man. I couldn't; I was and am decidedly male. I was reluctant to associate with men not because I felt disparate from the male psyche, but because I did not like men.

      The incongruity of my supposedly virtuous masculinity and my disdain for men is striking.


      When I was 19, I fell hopelessly in love with a girl at school. We discovered by chance that we very much enjoyed each other's company. We spent a great deal of time together. One evening she invited me to her bedroom to study. I had a lot of work. I painstakingly notated Hume for three hours. At midnight, as I stood in the doorway to leave, she asked me if I wanted to stay for the evening. Par for the course. I did, but I couldn't say it. I became extremely conscious of the over-neutrality of my facial expression. It turned into something approaching a pained grimace. My core contracted intensely and I spoke slowly: "I'd really like to, but I can't." I left.

      We saw each other the next day. I stayed over this time. We did not have sex, but I did kiss her.

      Another day passed. I invited her over this time. We tried to have sex. It didn't work.

      Some number of weeks passed. We saw each other occasionally. She'd lost interest in me. I was absolutely head over heels.

      Some number of months passed as we went home for the winter. I thought about her every single day. I struggled to sleep. I was listless and anxious.

      We reunited in February. She was taken with me. I'd stopped thinking about her constantly, just often. We spent more time together. She would brush up against me as we walked. She would speak to me with interest and excitement. We would dance at parties. We would look into each other's eyes and smile. My affection toward her grew beyond the realm of friendship again. Then a virus struck the Eastern Seaboard with a ferocity I'd never have expected within my lifetime. Our school announced its closure. We met the night before departing to say goodbye. I wanted desperately for her to stay with me forever. As she stood up to leave, I pulled her into an embrace and, my eyes tearing up and my voice nearly breaking, whispered, "I don't want you to go." She left.

      We texted over the next few months. We grew very close; closer than we'd been in person. My life was comprised of misery, separation, and apathy. I couldn't stand to be in my home any longer. I couldn't stand to be in my city any longer; I found it endlessly oppressive. I did not like being observed. I was always, always being observed. I wanted to be alone. I was never truly alone. I wanted to be with one person. I was never with her. I could not work. I could not sleep. I could not socialize. I could not breathe.

      The virus found its way to her. I was very concerned. She was fine. She could not smell. She was in good spirits. I escaped. I traveled to her. We met in a hotel. We spent several days together. I returned to my prison. I stepped foot inside and fell back into the crater I'd carved for myself.

      Some number of months passed. I had to see her again. I scrambled out of my crater and broke free of the cell. We met in another hotel. We spent several days together. We went on an adventure. I became lost within myself. I needed to be near her. I could barely speak to her. She wanted me to leave. She would not say it. I could see it. I could read it. I did read it. In the middle of the night, I felt an overpowering, overwhelming, push to GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT. It put the fear of God into my soul. I could not disobey, or I would die. I tried not to wake her. She heard me putting on my boots. She asked where I was going. I said that I needed to take a walk. I left as fast as my body allowed. I went out and forward. I had no destination; I just needed to depart immediately. I found a lake. It had a path nearby. The path continued into the woods, away from the water, windy and very dark. I walked along it for hours, hours, hours, hours, hours. The air was freezing. I was walking so vigorously that I had to take off my jacket. I could see the outlines of houses at some places along the path. The windows were dark. There were cars in the driveways. I intended to walk until I reached a town. I would look for a church, or a bar. Anywhere that would take me. It was cold again. I continued walking. There was no town. I continued walking. There was still no town. I continued walking. I saw lights in the distance. I continued walking. There was a lake. I approached. It was the lake I had found before. I halted and stood in place for ten minutes. I did not understand how this had happened or could happen. I sat down on a bench. I looked at the water. Across the lake, I saw a man walking alone. He took that path I had taken and disappeared into the darkness. I sat still for a very long time. Thoughts raced through my mind. I decided what I had to say to her. I went inside. A woman or man stood in the lobby. They took the elevator upstairs with me. I asked what floor. They gave some sort of answer. I pressed the button. We reached the floor I'd selected. They did not get out. I asked if this was their floor. They said no. I waited for the doors to close. We stood there in silence. The elevator brought us to our floor. I walked out. They followed me. They asked for a cigarette. I did not have any. I explained that I had to go to sleep. I walked quickly to my room. I entered. I closed the door behind me. I walked past the bed. She was awake. She asked how my walk was. I did not say anything. I could not look at her. I undressed and got into the bed. She made further conversation. I did not know what to say. She asked if I was feeling alright. I said that I was not. She asked why. My face tightened. My core tightened. I could not speak. I said, "My mind often takes me places." I paused for a long moment. "It gets anxious about people. Because I've been with you all this time, it's getting anxious about you." She said that that sounded like "normal social anxiety." I said, "No, it's..." I did not finish. I did not know how.

      We have not spoken in months. I think about her every day. At many moments I feel as though I have never wanted to see someone again more. At other moments I forget her completely, if only briefly. Then the loneliness comes back.

      Some weeks ago, I found myself in a distant place full of strangers. I made the acquaintance of a woman there. I liked her. She was older than me. She was very beautiful. She looked much younger than she really was. We drank wine and danced romantically at a party. Tango, waltz; whatever we could manage. She was the most attractive person there, and everyone knew it. She moved with a special mastery of her own body that I rarely saw in anyone. She was funny, and she could make really good drinks. Her friends commented on her beauty with pangs of jealousy. My heart fluttered when she entered the room, and I was drawn toward her. We spent more time together. People observed, but did not pry. She was confused or insecure about why I liked her. I offered kisses and flattery. The feeling was genuine; she had beauty beyond measure, and I felt remarkably comfortable in her presence. We had sex five times. We parted ways with a very heartfelt kiss. My mind returns now, uncontrollably, to two women.

      The incongruity of the deep affection I feel and my inability to express it is striking.


      TW. When I was 20, I lived far away from my friends. I spoke to my acquaintances cordially. Many of them looked up to me. I drank far too much alcohol. I saw a counselor. She spoke to me very candidly. I felt less alone.

      A girl down the hall, fresh out of high school, begged me to take her virginity. She was very intoxicated. I refused. She sat on my lap and kissed me. I froze. I thought of my woman from before. She put her hand on my crotch. I gently moved her off. She asked me again. I said no. I couldn't bear to have anyone witness this. I took her outside. We walked along the road, into the darkness. She asked if we could do it tomorrow instead, and I said no again. I explained that I could not sleep with her. She did not understand. We sat down on a bench. I was exasperated. She sat on my lap and kissed me again. She asked me to squeeze her ass. I resisted. She begged. I gave up for a moment and complied, and she tried to pull me in closer. I moved her off me and stood up. We walked back home. I made sure she went to her room. I turned to go to bed. I could hear her crying through her door.

      I felt that I had to leave that space. I could not. I lived there for six more months. I told no one. I avoided the girl down the hall. She and her friends always ate in the room near mine. It was hard for me to leave without being seen. I could say nothing. I pretended as though all was well with my other acquaintances. When I saw my friends, I did not tell them either. I distracted myself and moved on.

      The incongruity of my unbelievable narcissism and my pitifully diffident response to unconsensual sexual acts is striking.


      I'm 21 years old. Good or bad, all of that is behind me now. But it really isn't. I'm left with impressions in my mind that cannot be removed. I will never, ever forget these people; not by choice, but by imposition. I must accept this reality. In doing so I will allow myself to forget the worst parts, and so diminish the accursed reminders I presently face.

      If you read all of this, thank you.

      18 votes
    9. On Divorce

      I've spoken about my personal journey over the past six months in comments a few times, but I felt the need to make a post about it, mostly as catharsis for myself, but if it helps other people...

      I've spoken about my personal journey over the past six months in comments a few times, but I felt the need to make a post about it, mostly as catharsis for myself, but if it helps other people out, that would be cool too. Also, I may be doxxing myself a bit here, which is a little unavoidable if I want to tell this story accurately. I'd appreciate not being stalked.

      I'd like to detail my journey of what is, so far, the most difficult time in my life, what I've been doing to cope, how I'm doing now, and what the future may hold for me. This may be a little long and detailed, but I'll try to hit the high points.
      Lets start at the beginning here.
      I'm a 34 year old part time military officer in the US. I met my ex wife years ago, in high school originally. We were casual acquaintances back then. We had a couple of classes together, and I would tease her a little bit (I was immature when I was young, and totally unable to communicate well with girls). We went to prom together, but mostly lost touch after high school.

      After college, I came back to my home town, started developing my career in IT, hanging out with friends and coworkers. One of the people I worked with happened to be dating a girl who was good friends with my ex wife, and we started all hanging out, and reconnecting. My ex confessed that she always had a crush on me, and started actively perusing me. It started out as a casual relationship that I didn't see going anywhere, but it lasted. Eventually, I fell deeply in love with her, and we moved in together a short while later.

      I was so devoted to this woman. We were so alike in so many ways. We shared the same interests, the same type of humor, we developed our own language and style of communication. I had never really seriously considered wanting kids, and over time and a bunch of thought, I decided that I didn't really agree with the institution of marriage. In my mind, when two people love each other, that should be enough, and either party should be free to walk away at any time without any legal burdens or extra hoops to jump through, because I wouldn't want someone to be obligated to stay with me for even one minute.

      Both things were really important to her however, and we almost broke up over it. Eventually, after spending time with kids, and some deep introspection on my own part, I came around on kids, and coming around on kids almost necessitates coming around on marriage. You don't need to be married to have kids, of course, but it certainly provides a more stable environment and smooths out a lot of practical, logistical concerns. I asked her to marry me shortly after that, after five years together, in 2016.

      What followed were the happiest couple of years of my life. My wife had worked her way up in an accounting firm, she was managing a department, on track to become a partner in a few years. She had so much determination, ambition, and grit. It made me glassy eyed to think about how proud I was of her, all the personal growth and progress she'd made since I knew that girl in high school. I was developing a successful career in network engineering as well, and frequently flying out for short stints and conferences and design meetings. We were still best friends, and always wondered about people in unhappy marriages. Why couldn't they just be like us? Why were we so good at this?

      We took trips together, we watched shows together on the couch, I couldn't get enough of her.

      Her job had always been stressful, but some time around 2018, the stress had come to a head. She was frequently working until 10pm on week nights during her busy season, then she'd come home, down a few glasses of wine, go to bed after me, and wake up far too late, continuing the cycle of stress. This continued on for a few months. I tried to be there for her, prepare meals, support her however I could, but to little avail. She was angry, stressed out, upset all the time. She'd cry from the stress frequently, and was totally unable to cope.

      One day, she came to me with a proposal. She would quit her job and start her own business. I always knew that she wanted to do that eventually, but I had hoped it would be after she had amassed significant savings to do it. Her business idea was to start a tabletop gaming cafe. We had gotten pretty deep into board games and TTRPGs, and she thought that with her business sense and accounting knowledge, she'd be a perfect fit to do this job. I agreed with her, but a significant part of me thought that it was a massive risk, and financially, we were on the cusp of being truly independent. This would set us back a few years in the best possible scenario. She was my wife though, and I saw what this job was doing to her, so I agreed.
      She would work six more months while planning, save her money, and then quit to start this venture.

      As everyone told us it would, it did not exactly go according to plan. Securing a location and funding was far more difficult than she anticipated. She was stuck waiting for 8 months for a location that didn't pan out. She wasn't used to having to push people and follow up and annoy people to get them to do what they'd say they did, all of that was new for her. No one would extend a small business loan to an unproven entrepreneur with a fairly novel business plan. All in all, between the location, and the build out, and delays with licensing and permits, she mostly waited around for two years. In this time, I could see she was spiraling. She'd wake up at noon and do puzzles or binge watch tv all day. At night, she would go out drinking with her friends. I would join sometimes, but I couldn't, and didn't want to most of the time because I was just exhausted from work.

      Around this time, I discussed with my ex wife, and took a new position in the military, and got word that I would be deploying in 2020. I'm a leader of about 150 people, and preparing for this kind of thing is extremely involved, so I was working a lot. Meanwhile, my ex wife was going out constantly, 3-4 times a week, and coming home absolutely wasted. Sometimes she ubered, but other times she drove. In late 2019, I told her that I was concerned about how much she was drinking, that I thought it was unsafe. This was a bit of a wakeup call for her, as she had struggles with alcoholism in the past. She told me she was going to stop drinking and start going back to AA. I told her that if she thought that was what she needed to do, I would support her. She started her sobriety journey, and things started improving. She still was in limbo with her business, but construction was at least starting, she could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      In spring of 2020, I left for my deployment in the middle east, hopeful and optimistic. Her business was coming along nicely, I was taking this fairly prestigious position, and I was excited. We were sad to be apart, and it was heartbreaking to say good bye, but I'd see her again in ten short months.

      The deployment was stressful, but rewarding. I accomplished a lot of things I'm very proud of while I was out there, and about halfway through, my wife finally opened her business! This is where things started taking a turn. She was unable to secure funding still, so she basically dumped all of her debts on my lap. She never directly asked me for the money, but she worded it in such a way that I couldn't really refused. "Hey... so the contractors are asking for their 60k... I don't have any way to pay them... so... I need to figure something out". Of course, she was my wife, I had the money, why would I say no? I had always been very good at saving, and had a decent amount in investments. All in all, I spent about $160k directly funding her business. It was an emotional, somewhat sickening feeling parting with that much money. My life savings more or less. This wasn't part of the plan, and I was upset at her for putting me in this position.
      I told myself that it was ok. This was an investment in us. She'd make that back eventually, and what's hers is mine and what's mine is hers. Besides, this was my wife, and above all else, I wanted her to be happy. I stuffed those feelings of pain and resentment down, and continued with the deployment.

      During the whole time I was gone, I would get messages from her about how hard it was being alone, how difficult taking care of the dog and business was, how lonely she felt, how much she missed me and she couldn't bare it anymore. I felt truly awful, but there was very little I could do 10,000 miles away. I texted with her often (the signal wasn't so good for live video or audio calls). We would sext a bit, exchange nudes to try to tide each other over, but I could tell she was struggling in that area as well.
      About five months in, that kind of thing abruptly stopped. At the time, I thought she was learning coping strategies and adjusting to life with me gone. How little did I know.
      This winter, I came home finally. Stepping off that plane into the terminal, a few hundred yards away from my wife was the most excited I've ever been in my life. I was giddy, there was a huge smile on my face as I walked down the concourse in my uniform, and the first glimpse I got of her standing there, my god, it was like being in the desert and stumbling upon a pristine oasis. She had requested that my parents not be there, so against my better judgement, I told them that they were not to come, but I didn't think about that at all. She was standing there in a ratty sweatshirt and jeans, but she was still the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I went up and hugged her tightly, kissed her, and told her how much I loved her. Having her in my arms after so long was just such an amazing feeling.
      We went back to her car, and things quickly became much more... 'clinical', I'd say. Instead of feeling like we hadn't seen each other for ten months, it was like we were just hanging out on the couch after a long weekend, talking about practical things very quickly. It didn't really strike me as odd at the time, only now looking back on it.

      We went home, had sex, I got a burger, we were content. The next week or so, that same 'clinical' feeling persisted. She took one day off of work, then went back, saying that because the business was so new she couldn't take much time off. Fine. I stopped by the shop often, but every time I was there, I got a cold feeling from her and her employees, like I wasn't truly welcome. She would come home late each night and we'd watch something or have sex, but I didn't really see her much. I really wanted to go do a trip together, spend some quality time together, but it didn't pan out. I spent my time fixing up the house which she'd let fall into disrepair or playing video games to relax.

      One night, a week later (February 9th), I'm up late waiting for her to get home. 12:30 rolls around, no word from her. 1:00, nothing. Finally I message her, ask her when she's going to be home. She said she got caught up at work, and would be staying over her friends house for the night. A bit odd as her friend lives maybe 1/2 mile down the road, but whatever, she told me she'd been staying with this friend a lot while I was gone to stave off loneliness, so maybe she just misses that. I go to bed alone disappointed.

      The next day, she comes home at 10, I'm on the computer. She sits down on the couch, and doesn't say anything. I can tell she's upset, so I ask her what's wrong. No answer. I turn the computer off and walk over, and ask her again.

      She blurts it out. "I want a divorce".

      This didn't even register for me. I didn't even hear her at first. After a few seconds, I just immediately assumed she was joking. It was a frequent joke of ours "You don't like this movie? We're getting a divorce!" it was one of many things we did to mess around.
      I smiled a little, then it vanished. "Wait... you're serious?"

      My head fell into my hands. "I don't understand... why?"

      The reasons she gave me made no sense. I wasn't affectionate enough. I wasn't outgoing or social enough. She didn't like the nicknames I gave her. Stuff that had never come up before, and besides, I'd just been gone for close to a year, why are these suddenly issues now?

      I thought, easy, I can fix all of that stuff no problem. We'll go to couples counseling. No, I'm tired of counseling (We never did any form of counseling together).

      Okay, lets take that trip, lets work on the marriage. No, I'm tired of fighting.

      None of it made any sense. She had to run some errands, I asked if I could come, I just needed to spend time with her and get to the bottom of this. She went to work. I stopped by, tried to get some clarity. She reiterated the same points, said that we don't communicate well. Referenced a fight we had at a party 3 years ago where we didn't talk for a day. I barely even remember what the argument was about. I hugged her, whispered to her that I can't lose her. She responded "Wellllll.....". That night, she told me she was staying at her mom's.

      I talked to a friend of mine who is a divorce attorney a couple of days later. He told me that he hates to bring this up, but 99% of the time in situations like this, the wife is cheating. I hadn't done any snooping until then, but she had an old phone at the house. I opened it up. There it was in black and white. She'd been having an affair with one of the regular customers at her store for six months. "I love you baby" "I can't wait for us to be together" "You make me so happy".

      I wanted to vomit. I wanted to break things. I wanted to murder this guy. I wanted my wife back. I felt so much rage, confusion, sadness, worthlessness. I couldn't bring myself to be mad at her though. When I read it, I was on the phone on my friend, and exclaimed "That fucking BITCH!", but I didn't really mean it. Not my beautiful wife. It was the guy's fault. He corrupted her. He was insistent and wore her defenses down. He turned my wife against me.

      I contacted a divorce attorney that day. The marriage was over, I knew that now. What followed were the worst two months of my life. So much self loathing and depression. Anxiety. Panic attacks. How could I have not seen this? Where did I go wrong? Why did I go on that deployment? Why didn't I call and text my wife more? What did this guy have that I didn't? My friends and family helped, but some advice was better than others. "Just don't think about her" is not good advice, FYI.

      I enrolled in therapy for the first time in my life. It helped a little, not a lot though. I kept up with my gym routine, which did help. I spent a lot of time walking my dog.

      Eventually, I called my ex, and I told her "I want to do this quickly and with as little emotion as possible. I have a lot of things I'm feeling right now but I'm not going to bring them up because I want this to go smoothly." I never told her that I knew about the affair. My lawyer said it could only hurt things. Eventually we came to a settlement. I'd keep the house, my dog, my investments, etc. She'd keep her business, including the bulk of the capital I'd spent on it. The lawyer said this was a good deal. I still felt like I was getting fucked. I gave her that money less than a month before she started cheating on me. It was a complete slap in the face.

      I spent a lot of time curled up in a ball crying. Prior to this, I hadn't cried in fifteen years. Little things would trigger me. A text from her about finances. Someone telling me about her shop. A smell that reminded me of her.

      Two months after our separation, I started dating again. I met a wonderful woman, she sold exotic plants for a living. Empathetic, kind, beautiful, smart. It didn't work out. She needed someone in a more stable place. Looking back it was too soon.

      I kept up with therapy and the gym, they both helped a little. I've gone on a couple more dates since then, nothing has really stuck. I'm still struggling with feelings of self confidence/attractiveness.

      All in all, I DO feel better than I did, but I still don't feel great. I've been trying to expand my hobbies, I'm playing kickball now, I've picked up surfing. I'm trying to force myself to be a little more outgoing and social. I'd like to make new friends also, but not a ton of luck there yet. I do still cry sometimes. The other day, I was driving home from a bar, taking a route I used to take with my ex when we came from the movies. I remembered how happy I was with her by my side back then and started crying on the way home. I really hope that happens less. It's really unpleasant.

      I have lately been feeling like I'm in a little bit of a rut. It's been six months and each week flies by with me doing much of the same thing. Video games at night, work during the day, gym in the afternoon, maybe a date here or there. I wouldn't mind maybe moving to a new city, but the thought of that and all the work that's involved, and having no friends is frankly terrifying to me. I do know that I don't want to live life like groundhog day. I want to experience more new experiences.

      As far as I know, my ex wife has gone public with her relationship with the guy she left me for. By all outside accounts she seems happy, but who knows, I don't really keep tabs on her much and only communicate with her regarding a payment she owes me from the marriage. I've come to redirect most of the anger I had towards the guy at her instead. I am extremely bitter towards her and what she did, and I probably always will be. I don't see forgiveness in my future any time soon. I wrote her a letter after the divorce was finalized detailing that I knew everything she'd been doing, and assuring her that what she did was irredeemable, and no matter how she justified it in her head, it was not ok. I don't know if she ever even read it. She's still never apologized for what she did, and I doubt she ever will.

      As for me, I'd like to get to a place where I'm happy by myself. That'll be a long road I think, as even before I met my ex, I wasn't happy alone. I'd like to go amass new experiences; see the world, live in new places, do things I've never done before. I feel like I'm getting old, and I haven't done the things I want to do yet.

      I'd also like to find someone to fall in love with again. I love having a partner around and I'd be sad if I couldn't find someone to connect with like that again. I've been doing online dating, but man, it's really rough out there. I far prefer meeting people the way I met my ex, but you can't force that.

      I hope that I continue to get better. It feels like a kind of plateau right now. If I compare how I feel now to the happiest moments of my life with my ex as a 10, and the month right after the separation as a 1, I would say I'm at around a 5. Not horrible, but not very good either. I hope that number steadily increases, with or without another person.

      One "gift" that this whole experience has given me is self awareness of my emotional state. I feel a lot more in tune with the way I feel. I know when I'm having a bad day, and I usually know if I'm feeling bad just because I'm tired, or because I haven't had caffeine, or because something triggered me.

      I also feel a lot more deeply now. I cry during emotional scenes in TV shows, I have highs and lows, whereas before I remember even telling my ex that emotionally, I felt a little numb. That could be a good thing depending on how you look at it.

      Anyway, I know it was a little long, and if you read it, thank you. If you've got any questions or comments, feel free to leave them, and if this is inappropriate for this board, please feel free to let me know and I'll remove it.

      45 votes
    10. Do you know any books, articles, videos, etc. about how relationships (friendships, dating, etc) worked in the past? If so, then why do they rarely appear when people talk about them?

      Occasionally people here get into discussions about social relationships, namely dating, and what quickly comes up is how both of those seem to be less common and harder to 'get'. This more...

      Occasionally people here get into discussions about social relationships, namely dating, and what quickly comes up is how both of those seem to be less common and harder to 'get'. This more frequently happens in overtly dating and relationship subreddits and similar dedicated spaces, albeit, of course, this also pops up in more general communities, alongside any community where social relationships are an important topic, like communities about social ideologies like feminism or the manosphere or about genders because heterosexuality.

      One thing I often find is missing is some historical context. A lot of talk about loneliness and lack of platonic or romantic relationships is basically limited to the recent past, if it even talks about the past at all. It seems like it would be helpful to look at what relationships and dating were like 10, 20, 30 years ago when it comes to talking about the problems or just general state of both today. So do you know of good sources of information concerning relationships in the past? If so, then why do you think they don't pop up in discussions about dating?

      14 votes
    11. Our dead bedroom, and our journey to fix it. Any interest in the journey?

      I've been married for about 20 years. Our bedroom has been mostly dead for half of that. When I left to go take care of my mother, I didn't know if I would come back home. My husband and I like...

      I've been married for about 20 years. Our bedroom has been mostly dead for half of that. When I left to go take care of my mother, I didn't know if I would come back home. My husband and I like each other well enough, but we have each been in our own personally narrated relationship hell for too long. While I was away, we started writing each other letters, the distance seemed to let us "get it all out." We both seem committed to making the next 20 years better than the first. If there is any interest, I'm willing to chronicle our journey back from the brink of divorce, as well as answer any questions anyone might have. I'm the one with the lower sex drive, and with sex more tied to emotional intimacy than my partner. I like Tildes as my personal space and don't really want my husband to have an account, but I would let him use mine to speak his own words if that is something someone would want to hear. If there is no interest, I'll delete this topic in about a week, as I would find it a bit embarrassing in my history.

      Edit: I would also be interested in hearing how other people worked through this if anyone would like to talk about it.

      46 votes
    12. What's your proposing/marriage story?

      I'm interested in knowing how fellow Tilders became engaged and subsequently married. Let's just say I was given some personal reasons to think about the subject lately... I'm interested in...

      I'm interested in knowing how fellow Tilders became engaged and subsequently married. Let's just say I was given some personal reasons to think about the subject lately...

      I'm interested in knowing what steps led you and your significant other to consider the possibility, how you became engaged, how long did you know each other beforehand, etc...

      You know, the kind of thing someone that never considered marriage as an option is utterly ignorant about :P

      Any advice?

      13 votes
    13. How to let someone down?

      for those still committed to monogamous relationships: if you've been in a situation where you're talking with a few people that could be romantic interests, how do you let them know it's not...

      for those still committed to monogamous relationships: if you've been in a situation where you're talking with a few people that could be romantic interests, how do you let them know it's not gonna happen once you've found the (current) one ?

      9 votes
    14. How do I talk to my girlfriend about her past sexual assault?

      I've been in a relationship with my current girlfriend for almost a year now, and things seem rough right now because of an issue we're having. My girlfriend is upset with me because she thinks I...

      I've been in a relationship with my current girlfriend for almost a year now, and things seem rough right now because of an issue we're having.

      My girlfriend is upset with me because she thinks I don't care about her past trauma. She's told me, very roughly, what she's gone through, and I told her that whenever she's ready to talk about it, I absolutely will. But according to her, the last time she tried to initiate talking about it, I told her that I had no idea what to say. And this upset her and stonewalled the discussion.

      I don't doubt that happened. My problem is, is that if she were to try again, I might just very well do the same thing. I have zero idea on how to handle something of this severity. How do I ask her to talk about it? Is that something I should be asking? What does someone even say when given this information? I am not equipped whatsoever to deal with information of this magnitude and I'm at a loss. How do I let her know that I really do care about her, and am 100% willing to listen to what she has to say? I worry I'm too far in the doghouse to even make use of any of this advice, but any help is immensely appreciated

      Edit in case anyone was interested: We talked and we're okay :). She told me what she went through and I didn't handle it nearly as bad as I worried I was going to. Thanks everyone for your kind words and helpful advice.

      17 votes
    15. For those in marriages or long-term relationships, what do you do with mementos of previous relationships?

      I recently went through some old boxes and found my collection of mementos - birthday cards, love letters, ticket stubs, etc. - from years gone by. I'm not convinced marriage will ever be for me,...

      I recently went through some old boxes and found my collection of mementos - birthday cards, love letters, ticket stubs, etc. - from years gone by. I'm not convinced marriage will ever be for me, but I've always imagined if I were to get to that point, I'd want to show such a collection to my SO as a way for them to fully understand my story, so to speak. On the one hand, I think of it as a pretty powerful expression of trust in your partner... but I realize the potential for that to massively backfire by introducing jealousy and insecurities. At the same time, I'm very strongly of the belief that what is shared within a relationship is not to be shared with others outside it without mutual consent. I hate gossip, and have had my share of conflict throughout the years over desiring more privacy and discretion in my various SO's conversations with their friends and family about us. That means I would probably choose to leave aside certain things out of respect for my exes, but then I'm not sure if that devalues the gesture.

      Any thoughts?

      24 votes
    16. What was your "oh, they wanted more than coffee!" moment?

      In an episode of the TV show Seinfeld, a woman invites George Costanza for a cup of coffee in her apartment after a date. George rejects the offer, saying if he drank coffee that late he would...

      In an episode of the TV show Seinfeld, a woman invites George Costanza for a cup of coffee in her apartment after a date. George rejects the offer, saying if he drank coffee that late he would stay up all night. The woman leaves the car visibly underwhelmed. After a second, George realizes "coffee" meant "sex" and he just lost a great opportunity.

      Have you ever had a moment like that (not necessarily about romance), in which a silly misunderstanding led to the loss of an opportunity?

      22 votes