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Old 09-01-2014, 06:19 PM
natalieisafox natalieisafox is offline
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Default Confused, hurting, love triangle...advice??

I'm a 25 year old woman in a monogamous relationship with my 24 year old boyfriend. We have been together for three and a half years, and I'm very in love with him. We have all the same values and same family goals, we want all the same things in the future. We have mostly everything in common, we enjoy each other's company and have a lot of fun together. He's handsome and I'm very attracted to him, even though our sex drives don't quite match up (his is very little while mine is through the roof). He's my best friend, and I can't picture my life without him.

In early spring of 2012, I worked with a young man who is about 7 years older than me, doing assisted living. We spent a lot of time together, mostly alone and though we remained 100% professional throughout the whole thing, we clearly enjoyed each other's company. He left at the beginning of the summer. It was sad, because I really enjoyed his company, and even though I was in a relationship and felt guilty, I was extremely attracted to him and crushed on him hard. Harder than anyone in a long time. I don't find myself attracted to people often, so it was exciting to feel that feeling with someone again. He never once let on that he was attracted to me, so I just dropped my little pipe dream fantasy and worked on my rocky relationship after he left.

About a month later, he contacted me on Facebook. It was very laid back and friendly, but it was mostly just to say sorry for disappearing from work and that he hoped there was no hard feelings. And also, to invite me to a weekly poker night he hosted. I didn't go the 1st one, or the 2nd one, or even the 3rd, 4th, or 5th one. I didn't go until the last week in August. I didn't play poker with then, but we were in each other's sight all night. Finally when everybody left, we had a couple hours alone. We ended up really enjoying ourselves and by the end of the night he made a move. I tried to resist, I finally told him I had a boyfriend, he immediately replied, "So?" And then proceeded to say something about how if I never took the chance, I would always wonder what would have happened...We didn't have sex, but other things happened...My boyfriend found out and was really hurt...we broke up. And I immediately found myself seeing the other guy.

We saw each other for three months and got even closer than we were before. We only saw each other every other week, but we had an amazing time when we were together. We were very comfortable in each other's company. There was an intense feeling that we didn't talk about, but were aware of. And the sex was amazing.

But my boyfriend and I didn't really ever stop seeing each other either. We did for the first month, but then we started hanging out again, then eventually, basically
dating once more...At the end of the three months, my boyfriend found out that I continued seeing the other man, and that we were having sex. This was devastating news for him, but he wanted to stay with me, and he wanted me to stop seeing my co-worker and work things out with him. So I did. I immediately broke it off with the other man. But I never stopped thinking about him...and apparently he never stopped thinking about me either, because two months after everything ended, he called me. I didn't answer. He called my phone every few weeks, but I never answered. I just let my heart pound every time it rung and I saw his number.

I let it happen for a couple months, then finally I have him my email and asked him to write me. We only talked for a little because my boyfriend found out and ended it. It stopped for a little, then started up again. In November of the year after we saw each other, I stopped by his house to see him for an hour in between work shifts. It was so overwhelming, I could hardly handle it. He tried to kiss me when I left, but I didn't let him. I wrote him after the visit and pleaded for him to tell me what it was about me that kept him coming back. It was at this point where he told me how he felt about me and explained his views on relationships and dating. He had open relationships, and encouraged me to try it. He always talked about what a shame it was because that I wouldn't give myself the chance to explore and that I limited myself to only one experience. He admitted that he would have a monogamous relationship with me, but was willing to have an open one if I was, but I wasn't.

The writing and occasional phone calls never really stopped. They would for a few months, but then we would write back and forth for a few weeks, then I would panic for fear that I would get caught and I would cut him off, then miss him and contact him again. This viscous cycle lasted forever...We were/are almost psychically connected. Every time I found myself missing him and thinking about him really hard, he would find a way to contact me and then we would begin the whole dance over again, until either I was caught, or felt too guilty. Our conversations were always appropriate. I was terrified of "cheating" on my boyfriend, since I had been labeled one after the whole incident, so I wouldn't let him talk about anything inappropriate. So we just asked each other questions, and answered them at length. I found myself waiting impatiently every week, in anticipation for his responses.

We ended up speaking on the phone one time, and it made me physically feel pain. I missed him a lot. We ended up seeing each other three times at the beginning of this summer. We did not have sex, or even kiss. It was so overwhelming, but I loved every second of his attention, as he did mine. I cut him off AGAIN. This time I did it over the phone, as I felt I owed him that. He was really heart broken, I could hear it in his voice. He admitted to me this time that he was attached to me. It hurt really bad to let him go, because I was attached to him too.

About six weeks later, he messaged my friend on Facebook (a channel in which he had become accustomed to getting in touch with me without actually contacting me). She informed me and I immediately emailed him on an email I knew I wouldn't get caught on. We story told and question asked again, and this time it got a little x-rated, but all in good fun. Just stuff we enjoyed doing and turn ons, and such. I know all of this is wrong...or at least I feel like it is...we are still talking now at this point in time.

My boyfriend and I have been steadily working on our relationship, but things only improve for a little bit. He is very dependent and needy. He typically doesn't have a job, he can only hold one for a few months at a time. I'm support us mainly by working two jobs. He always has a legit excuse why he doesn't have work; right now he has a work related injury...he's depending on me to take care of him and work and pay the bills and even fill out his workers comp paperwork...

But the other man doesn't leave my thoughts. And even though we don't talk for weeks, sometimes even months, I know we are on each other's minds a lot. Its a happy, warm, strong, comforting feeling that rests in my belly and my heart. Him and I talk a lot about relationships and what they mean to us. He has an open relationship going with one woman and has expressed his care for her. He also wishes that I would not make myself feel awful with all this "baseless guilt" as he calls it. He feels that if something feels this good, and this right, then why should we deprive ourselves of it? My argument is that it's not fair to my boyfriend. Then he argues that I'm not going to do something that I want to do, just because it isn't fair, is silly...

But it's not right, is it? I can't just carry this relationship on, it's not healthy...it would be healthy if my boyfriend knew about it and was okay, but he doesn't know about it, and he wouldn't be okay...I just don't know what to do. Every few months that go by, things get more emotionally serious with the other man. We clearly care for each other, and even though we don't necessarily want to be monogamous (even though it has been discussed and I think we would have ended up that way if my boyfriend had never been in the picture) we cannot let each other go. A few months can go by, but by the end of it, we are on each other's minds often and are getting ready to contact the other when the other will beat us to it.

I love my boyfriend, and my feelings have not changed. I want to marry him, I fantasize about our wedding and future often, and how much I love his family and how I love being a part of it. And how I love studying energy with him, and chakras and the zodiac, and I love cooking with him, and playing music with him. I love laughing and cuddling and watching movies. I can't wait to travel with him and show him places he's never been. I love camping with him and canoeing and being in nature with him. I want to learn to farm with him and do woodworking with him. I love him. And I know that. I've thought about it a lot over the past two years...

I have beat myself up a lot over this. A lot. The dread and the shame that I feel is unbearable sometimes. I feel like I am doing so much wrong and I cut him off and bury the feelings away and force myself to stop thinking of him...then he will pop back up and I am suddenly aware of the hole again and how much it hurts because he's not in my life.

I don't know what to do. I just want to have my cake and eat it too, but I know I can't keep this going...I really want to tell my boyfriend how I feel, but I don't know how to do it, and I don't know if I can handle the emotional upset that it will cause...But I feel selfish and I feel like I'm basically cheating, even though there is no sex involved. I don't know what to do...I'm getting to the point where I would rather be all alone than to break anymore hearts...

...Any advice..?
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  #2  
Old 09-01-2014, 06:42 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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Even though it won't be easy, and feelings may be hurt, I would strongly advise you to be honest with your boyfriend.

Tell him you love him and want a life with him, but that you're struggling to let go of the connection you formed with the other man.

Tell him you still have feelings for the other man and want to be able to explore them, either to find some closure or to have a relationship with both of them.

However, I do see a red flag in the other man telling you to have a relationship with him if you want to. To me, that sounds like he's encouraging you to cheat on your boyfriend or to do something that your boyfriend wouldn't be okay with. If he wants you to be happy, in my opinion, he should be encouraging you to be open and honest, because lying and cheating doesn't usually make anyone happy, even the person doing it...

Whether your boyfriend is okay with you "having your cake and eating it too" or not, I think you need to tell him what's going on in your mind and heart, because otherwise your missing the other man and thinking about him and the possibilities could have a negative impact on your relationship with your boyfriend. At least if things are out in the open, there's room for you and boyfriend to discuss and negotiate.
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  #3  
Old 09-01-2014, 09:20 PM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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Hi Natalie,

I'm sorry you are in this situation, and I understand that you are in turmoil.

In my opinion, cheating means breaking whatever rules you have agreed to uphold in your relationship. You are cheating - you are having an emotional affair. You are cheating because you are breaking the rules of your relationship with your boyfriend.

I don't mean to be harsh, I really just think it's better to be honest with yourself and accept what you are doing. The longer you continue denying it to yourself, the longer you are dragging this out, and you are going to continue to hurt your boyfriend as well as placing yourself and the other guy in constant turmoil.

I do not agree with what your other guy is saying or doing. He is being unethical. Yes, I do of course believe in his ethos of freedom and multiple partners, but ethical non-monogamy is not what he is practicing in the slightest. He is being very selfish, and that would be a trait I'd worry about in a partner.

In any case, I completely understand that you have a strong bond and a passionate connection. I completely understand how heartbreaking it is to feel torn between two people and to not want to hurt anyone. I can also see that you very much want a future with your boyfriend.

However, in order to have a future with your boyfriend, you kind of have to deserve it. What I mean by that is that you are not treating your boyfriend - the man you want to marry - with any respect whatsoever. The longer you continue to do this, the more respect you will lose for him, and if he catches you again and again, he might eventually walk away. Even worse, being betrayed by someone you love can really have a profoundly damaging impact on a person's trust and self-esteem for an extremely long time.

My advice would be to stop for a moment. Stop thinking about yourself and cut contact with the other guy for a month. During that time, think about how you are going to broach this topic with your boyfriend. Understand that he's going to ask if you've been in touch with the other guy, and you are going to need to be honest. The reason I say cut contact is because it is completely disrespectful to continue talking to him while going through this with your boyfriend. Your boyfriend should be your priority right now, if you really do want a future with him. Your other guy, if he is decent, should be willing to bow out temporarily and give you the space you need to talk to your boyfriend about this.

In terms of how to bring it up, there is no easy way honey. But you do owe it to him to be honest. Lay your cards on the table. Say that you want both of them. If your boyfriend cannot handle it, unfortunately you will have to make a decision. It's not going to be easy, but sometimes we cannot have all of the things that we want - we have to pick one thing. It may be that your boyfriend is willing, and I do hope that he is, but even that will be a wrong road. You and he will have a lot of trust repair work to do. Good luck, and do let us know how you get on.
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  #4  
Old 09-01-2014, 10:13 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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It doesn't sound like your boyfriend is really pulling his weight in your relationship. He is needy, irresponsible, and dependent upon you, and yet bosses you around by making demands to which you agree, even though you don't want to. Is he your bf or your boss? To be afraid of his finding out that you contacted this person - you shouldn't have to live that way. You should be free to be honest and speak your truth.

It seems to me that the fellow you are sneaking emails and phone calls to sounds like a better match compatibility-wise, and you are just holding onto this idea of staying with the boyfriend because you've loved him for so long. Honey, we all have loved people who aren't good for us. If I were you, I would tell him you want to either have both relationships or will end it with him, but if he wants to continue in a relationship with you he will have to commit himself to finding and staying in a job long-term and contribute equally.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:46 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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One's 20's are such a confusing time! I well remember, and now that I am older with 3 20something offspring of my own, I see it again second hand.

You sound very confused about what you want from life, and from these two men. You say you want marriage, travel, farming, family, this that and the other thing with your bf. You love him, you have similar life goals. But he sounds like a slacker! Doesn't work, depends on you working two jobs, depends on you to fill out his workmens comp paperwork! And has a much lower sex drive than you do, to boot.

It hurts to not feel desired when one is desirous of the other. I'd wager a guess your sexual frustration is linked to your emotional affair with your mystery man.

I'd also question your bf's self esteem in taking you back time and again when he finds you cheating. Is this all a good reason to say, Yeah! Let's get married? No, it is not!

I hope venting at length and rereading what you wrote will give you some perspective. This is not polyamory, but cheating. Polyamory means all parties involved are on board with multiple partners.
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Old 09-02-2014, 08:41 PM
natalieisafox natalieisafox is offline
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Thank you all for your input. I agree with everyone. I realize this is not polyamory; I am aware that it's cheating, unfortunately. And I also agree that the other guy is being selfish and unethical. He is so tricky with his words, he tries to talk me into having a relationship of some sort with him, then I think about it later and get annoyed that he had me half convinced...I know it's cheating if my boyfriend is not okay with it and I'm sneaking around, and it irritates me that he doesn't see it my way and that he can't respect the relationship I have. But I'm selfish too...I just want someone to treat me like the strong, independent, hard working, sexy, passionate woman I am...rather than their mother...

I guess I've brought my problem here because I have no one else to discuss this with. The few friends I have cheat all the time, and don't really think much of it, whereas I feel guilty and tortured when I've done it. My family is pretty traditional and doesn't really like my boyfriend anyway, so they're a little biased and hard to talk to...I just need to hear from people that are used to relationships that are not traditional to our society and value the nature of all human relationships in general...Everyone's responses basically just validated everything I was thinking, I just needed to bounce it off of someone besides my own brain, heart and conscience.

I feel like my boyfriend is a puppy, and I know his self esteem is not great. He's had a lot of bad luck in his life, and it doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon. And because of it, he becomes totally demotivated. Which makes me demotivated when we're together, which is whenever I'm not working. It's making it ridiculously hard to take care of our responsibilities, which seemed to have all turned into my responsibilities...

I really want to have this talk with my boyfriend, but there are a few things stopping me: We're in a crappy living situation right now. Well, not really, but we're living with a close friend of mine, who also happens to be a male. Everyone's territorial, it gets uncomfortable sometimes, and we're staying there for the winter. Our heating and regular bills are cut in half this way, which is good because I'm the only one with full time work right now. I'm worried that if I drop this on him right now, it's going to make everyone in the house's living situation very uncomfortable. It's my friends house, so I feel by boyfriend will feel trapped and alienated at the same time. Like I said, he's injured from work, so he can't really get away, and we really can't discuss it while at home either, because we're never alone, I'm sure it would lead to heated discussions and perhaps raised voices, and I don't really want to do that to my friend and his little sister.

Also, if my boyfriend wanted to leave, he has no where to go. No friends to stay with, can't stay with family, no room for him. He already feels so bad about himself. I feel like if I try to explain my feelings to him, about how I feel about the other guy, I'm scared he's going to get scared and feel even worse about himself, because he feels like he doesn't compare and that he's not good enough for me. This is what's happened in the past, and he just turns into a mopey, demotivated, pitty party, who just says "Fine, then break up with me," and would rather be depressed and party until he's numb than work on things with me. Eventually he just guilts me into feeling like I'm wrong and makes me feel like my feelings are wrong, so I bury them and cut the other guy off and then I suffer silently.

So I guess my next question is this: what is a good way to break this to my boyfriend? How do I tell him that I have feelings for another man, but I still love him just as much as before? How do you explain that to a boy who has only known (well, respected, anyway) monogamy?

A little background history: we used to run with a crowd that most people would consider hippies, and most of them practiced, their version of "polyamory", which to them, it was really just an excuse to eat a lot of drugs and have multiple sexual partners at a time, and "share experiences" with one another. They all got really lost in the drugs and began forming other unhealthy habits, so me and my boyfriend got away from all that. But this feeling of feeling "love" for multiple people is not a new feeling to me, and not something that I just developed over the past few years, it's something I've been going back and forth about since I was old enough to have feelings for another human being. I'm also bisexual, and have been my whole life, and even though I have never had the chance to experience any kind of a relationship with another girl (like I said, traditional family, not 100% out of the closet) I know how I feel. My boyfriend is used to all of this stuff from spending so much time with the "hippies", but I know he doesn't take it seriously. I don't know how to explain how I feel to him. I want to be with him, I love him, and I love him no less than I ever have, I just want to explore having other relationships. Not necessarily just with the other guy, but with a woman. I don't want to leave him, I just want to explore my feelings...

I also feel like when I explain my feelings for the other man, he's just going to feel demasculinized, like in the past. He's in this mode where he thinks that we're soulmates and he knows he could never love anyone else for the rest of his life, and would be devastated if he knew that I did not feel quite the same way. How do I explain it to him so he understands? How do I comfort him and reassure him? How do I explain to my long time boyfriend who planned on being monogamous that I may not want to be anymore? I've only had four boyfriends in my life, and besides the "other guy", they are also the only people I have even been intimate with. I don't find myself attracted to people often, physically or emotionally, so when I have the chance, I'd like to take that opportunity to experience it. I'm kind of just realizing this now...I always dreamed of having that dream family with that one soulmate, and even though I still want that (or something like that), I'm finding that It's not going to happen quite the way I want it, and I'm not really sure how to steer it in the right direction anymore...

...more advice, anyone..?
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Old 09-02-2014, 09:31 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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First, you say that you don't like the other man's behavior and feel like he's manipulating you and not respecting your relationship with your boyfriend. You acknowledge that he's asking you to cheat. Is this something you truly want? Do you want someone in your life who will not only encourage you to be dishonest, but pretty much make fun of you for wanting to be honest?

Second, as for your boyfriend... Your concern about not hurting him or making him feel emasculated makes sense, but you are hurting him--and yourself, from the sounds of your post--with your current behavior.

Regardless of how he *acts*, he's an adult in a relationship, and he needs to at least try to accept truth when it's given to him.

You are also an adult in a relationship, and I think you owe it to both him and yourself to say, "I still have feelings for the other guy, I don't want to hurt you, but I'd like to be able to explore those feelings. I love you and want a life with you, but I also care about him."

I didn't think Hubby would be able to accept it when I told him I was polyamorous and in love with Guy, but it worked out.
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Old 09-03-2014, 03:03 AM
Arius Arius is offline
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I would be very wary of getting into a poly relationship of any sort with a person who actively encourages you to violate someone else's boundaries. I don't see that going well. Your bf is likely to get burned, badly.

It also sounds like you're not getting your needs fully met with your bf.

I don't know what to recommend. One of the things I love about being poly is that I can be honest with everyone. (Although, it's not always easy even in poly relationships.) Radical honesty and openness works for me and makes me feel good about myself. That being said, I was quite the cheater when I was trying to force myself into a monoga-box.

Honesty might not work for you. Are you ready to lose your boyfriend? That's the likely outcome of honesty in this situation. In your case, it might be best just to cheat on your bf with this other guy - if you can get it past your conscience.

Or, be honest and let the chips fall where they may. You've definitely reached a crisis point, and you're probably not going to feel better until you make a decision. Good luck.
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Old 09-05-2014, 01:42 AM
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Daenerys Daenerys is offline
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I'm really sorry that you are in a crappy situation like that, I can imagine how hard it must be for you. There are no easy solutions here. All your options involve pain, and it's going to cost you a lot of strength.

It seems like you have already decided to tell your boyfriend, and I applaud that choice. You don't feel good about your dishonesty regarding the other man in your life, and your boyfriend is after all an adult and should be treated as such. Show him the respect he deserves by being honest. Of course it's terrible that all this is happening now when things are not going great for him, but such is life. It sucks, and sometimes the bad things pile up. If you want a future with him, you have to be willing to work (and suffer) for it, because this is not going to be easy. Prepare yourself that he might not be willing or able to enter a polyship with you, and make up your mind about your priorities in this case.

I would strongly advise you against any more cheating on your boyfriend. No matter how this turns out, at least you won't have to deal with what this does to your conscience. I have recently been cheated on and I'm still in the early desperation phase, so naturally I'm biased, but I sincerely believe that you have better options. You might not be blessed with the greatest companions in this challenge - it seems like your boyfriend has a lot of work to do with regard to his own life, and your other guy does come off as manipulative and dishonest - but people can change, and your feelings for them are there, so deal with them in an ethical and responsible way.

On to more practical advice: If you tell him, be honest about your feelings. Try to comfort and reassure him as much as possible, tell him how important this relationship is to you, and that you are putting him through this emotional turmoil because you believe there might be light at the end of the tunnel. Signal your willingness to suffer through this together, let him know he's not alone, that you will be with him and taking care of him every step of the way, no matter where your journey may lead you. Tell him that you need him on your side, that his consent and his feelings matter, that you will do everything in your power to be a good partner, but that you won't neglect your own feelings and other important aspects of your personality you're only just starting to discover. Tell him that your honesty is a sign of respect for him and his capabilities, and your high hopes for your relationship.
I fully agree with sparklepop's suggestion: cut ties with the other guy for at least a month or two, and focus on your boyfriend. Give him some time to recover from the cheating situation, and then work with him to find a tolerable way to resume your interactions with the other guy. Go slowly, get educated about polyamory and be prepared to do the work.

Good luck.
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Old 09-05-2014, 10:02 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am sorry you struggle.

You made out with coworker. Bf found out. You guys broke up. You are now single at that point.

The rest is back and forth dating on and off with the same people. But if you have not promised either one "exclusive" or "going steady" at that point in time? You have not been cheating. You are single woman dating and playing the field.

Maybe you have not been assertive about those boundaries and making it clear in the new iterations. Maybe they assumed some things about exclusivity. But not cheating. Already broke up from the cheating time. To me anyway.

Rather than getting hung on "is this cheating or not?" how about taking a step further back to review the bigger picture? The question of "Are these healthy dating partners for me to have right now?"

To me both dating partners sound in weak character at this time. The BF is not pulling his weight and has this hang dog puppy thing with low self esteem. You do not exist just to prop people up. The other one sounds like Mr Manipulative, do whatever and say whatever to get what he wants. Right now he wants you. Who knows what he wants later. You do not exist just to be used up. He dazzles and later you do not feel good about it. Kinda vampire. But bf does that too. When you bring up issues or want to leave he guilt trips to get what he wants... For you not to go.

Neither sounds attractive to me. Like two sides of the same "memememe" coin.

You are not willing and able to seek polyshipping with healthier people if what you desire is exploring healthy polyamory?

I think because you had bf who does not pull weight you were ripe for mr smoothie to dazzle you. You were hungry for attention and care too...worn out from always giving. But you are now waking up to see both with clearer eyes. Not loving what you see. Not sure how how to proceed.

To be honest, I think you could do better than both of them. If you are fed up and want to chuck it all and start over I wouldn't blame you.

You do not want a big baby for a bf... Could he change or is this basically who he is?

You do not sound enthused with manipulative coworker despite the good sex...so could lose him. He just sounds too vampire to me to work with. You say yourself he is unethical.

Quote:
But I'm selfish too...I just want someone to treat me like the strong, independent, hard working, sexy, passionate woman I am...rather than their mother...
I find it weird you call that selfish. There is selfish, selfless, and then the place in between of self full.... Were you meet your needs and the needs of others in a balanced way. You could aspire to thrive in relationships, not merely survive them!

Right now the two bfs sound draining... You cannot get fed here too? What about what YOU want from adult relating?

YOU could be that someone to treat you that way. YOU treat you like the strong, hardworking, independent, sexy, passionate woman you are and disentangle yourself from guys who drag you down and/or relationship shapes that drag you down.

Really up to you to discern and do the pros and cons here for each dating partner. And the relationship shapes. Monogamy or some kind of open model you want to try. http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/p...iola/open.html

That is what I would do in those shoes...figure out my own willingness and ability first. Be honest with myself about what I want next for healthy partners and relationships shapes I am open to and assess my fitness in general.

Then be honest with evaluating THESE specific partners and their fitness. Do they make they cut?

Seriously...make a pros and cons list for both bf and coworker. Pros.... This partner treats me in healthy ways like this. Minus....this partner treats me in unhealthy ways like this. See what you get. Are you being treated well in these relationships so you can thrive in them?

Yes, break ups are sad and disappointing if it comes to that. Both as the breaker upper and the broken up with. Adults can handle that. It is part of adult dating. You guys are all adults.

I am not saying to leap right to breaking up....but I strongly encourage you to make the + / - lists for how healthy these partners treat you and take a good hard look at your situation.

Determine your "willing and able" .... what you are up for and what you are not up for at this time.

Hang in there!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 09-06-2014 at 05:40 AM.
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