Seek My Counsel and Feel Your Life Improve
It will be detrimental to your lifestyle. It will make your existence much harder than it is currently. There is no debate. Things will be different and difficult. All the romanticizing in the world won't spare you from night terrors brought on by money stress. AND GOD HELP YOU IF YOUR CHILD HAS EVEN A SLIGHT DISABILITY. Your life from birth UNTIL THE DAY OF YOUR DEATH, will include worry of every kind.
Does your partner want to keep the child because she's opposed to aborting it, or does she really want to raise it? You can bring a child to term and still not raise it. Adoption is an often-forgotten option that secures a better life for child and bio-parents.
If your lady objects to terminating the pregnancy, discuss adoption as a middle path. She can feel good about giving a child a chance with a family that CAN PROVIDE FOR THE CHILD. Stress that one to her. Love does not feed children. Love does not put them in decent schools.
You are not being selfish by not wanting a child. She MAY be being selfish by insisting on one. Tell her there will be many more chances to do this right. Ask that, in the meantime, she consider doing right by the child and giving it up for adoption.
Some men will tell you it helps provide closure if they're told that there's someone else. But largely it just serves to inbitter a man who might already feel blindsided.
Here's what works: Tell your man you are no longer in love with him. You want to see what else the world has to offer. You respect him, you wish him the best in all things, and you anticipate that the two of you will be friends (though you recognize it may take some time).
That's all you need to say. Further details are can be used as negotiation points by a desperate man. Don't provide that.
I typically advise women breaking up with men to make it about their partner's looks. "I'm nto attracted to you anymore." This is because it's something men understand and it's inarguable. However, I know most people have a hard time saying it. So stick with the original plan: Be concise and offer nothing other than the facts. Don't argue. There is nothing to argue.
He'll find out through friends that there's someone else. He'll call you in the middle of the night irate. When he does, stick to the facts. Tell him: "Yes, I'm dating. Yes, I met him when we were together. But I left you because I was over you. That's all you need to know. I can't be stolen away because I'm not property. Call me in six weeks when you're rational." Click.
This is normal.
Everyone wants everything. People want ex's to exist and not exist. Be available to them and be on another planet. They want to know the other person still cares, but they don't want to feel obligated to care back. Everyone wants everything on their own terms.
You need to recognize two things:
First, the sovereignty of her personhood. She doesn't exist for you. When you push people away from you, it's assumed you'll live with that choice. You can't ask for a redo at the expense of her feelings.
Second, you probably made the right decision. It's possible that you let the love of your life slip through your fingers... but not very likely. Instead, you allowed someone to move on with her life. She's no longer involved with a dude who doesn't feel completely connected to her. You did her a good turn, even if you regret it on some level.
It's natural to feel loss when you part with someone who was a large part of your life. That doesn't mean the alternative was any better. Feel the loss and move forward. Don't feel pain and in running from that feeling land back in a relationship you weren't fulfilled by.
Coming Out is as personal as it gets. Everyone does it differently. It's not only bad form to rush someone, but it can also set that person back in the process.
So, typically, I would advise you to be supportive but not overt. I'd tell you to consistently but not constantly affirm that you are comfortable with any life decision a friend/family member makes regarding their sexuality.
However, this is your mother so the rules are slightly different. If you're close with her, I'm going to advise you break protocol and speak to her about this directly.
Take her out to eat, someplace quiet, and tell her what you've noticed. Make sure you are clear about the fact that she's not obligated to tell you anything. She doesn't owe you an explanation of any kind. You just want her to know that if she can come to you with anything, both because you love her and because you don't care about anyone's sexual preference.
If she's not forthcoming about it, or if you misjudged the situation, don't get frustrated. It's not your place to feel any sort of way about this. Just shrug and tell her, "well, if things ever head that way, understand I love and support you. Can you pass the orange juice?"
Without undergoing therapy, there's no real way to know if the experience and the behavior are related. That said, it's a pretty logical guess that they are.
Trust is the issue, and you appear to be placing your lack of trust onto men who have never given you a reason to feel that way.
OR YOU JUST LOSE INTEREST. And that's the problem. There's plenty of people who have never been victim to assault who are just fickle by nature. They lose interest in men/women all the time, having nothing to do with trauma and with no greater cause for concern. You COULD be one of those people.
If you're certain you have spent time with men who fit well into your life but you nevertheless push them away, let's assume it's related to your past. The fact that you're aware of it is a good first step. There are millions of people acting out the same thing without the level of understanding you have.
Treat your psyche like a muscle undergoing rehabilitation. It WILL NOT get better without exercise. You have to give it attention and gently push it to its limits if you're ever going to get it back to a working state. In this case that involves you objectively looking at your relationship with men and making informed decisions on if you can trust them. If the answer is yes, you have to give them access to you emotionally. And every time you feel yourself pulling away, you have to put a genuine effort into holding that pose. Same as stretching; same as exercise.
That doesn't mean perseverating on it the whole time. No one succeeds at putting up a new personal best in weightlifting by thinking, "oh my god, I don't know if I'm capable of this. How long do I have to hold it?" And then counting the milliseconds. They train their minds to push along with their bodies so the act is automatic. And when they fail, they try again the following week. Go with it, is what I'm saying. Have trust? Have kindness? Have some small spark? Ok, you've got what everyone wants. Let it play out further each time before you kill it.
Don't get frustrated. Hold that pose and allow a good man a chance to be good to you. Even if it takes ten good men before you've come along and can allow one fully into your life, that's fine. Change comes slow.
Everyone telling you that you've got a responsibility to your kids are missing the point. That broad statement is obvious and you'd never debate it. You do have a responsibility to your kids. But that doesn't mean you being in their space, working your life away for little return.
Unhappy dads make for insecure kids. When they're 30, they may reflect on your sacrifice and say, "Dad did it for us." But in the 29 years before that, they'll wonder what's wrong with you and think you're sort of an asshole for consigning yourself to misery. At age 14 they'll start to lose respect for you and by 22 they'll consider you the sort of sad-sack they hope to never be.
Are you a cash-machine? Or are you a mentor? Sounds like you've got the first one down well enough. But a mentor is something you'll build yourself into as you pursue happiness. At that point, you won't feel like a placeholder. You'll be someone your kids are proud to call their father.
You want your children to learn from you. So be happy and give your children an example they can follow.
My advice is simple and it's nothing she hasn't heard before. But it's the immutable truth and she's got to get to the point that it makes sense for her.
Cut the cord.
That's it. She's got to ask herself what she and her family have aside from a shared history. If there is NOTHING more to it than that (no support; no sense of kinship; no love) then what purpose do they serve in her life?
It's difficult to hear and will be even more difficult for her to say, but at some point she has to recognize that family is not a reason in-itself for keeping someone in your life. We get to decide who we value. There's no rules. Family is just a word when the people involved chose to abuse the meaning.
She doesn't need to make a big deal out of it. She doesn't need to advertise that this is her track. She just needs to not be in their company. At all. She can send a Christmas card. She can be kind and polite when she bumps into them. But she needs to limit her interaction with them to occasional and accidental meetings. No get-togethers. No "spending time with the family." No engaging them on social media platforms. Those are just ways to get tangled.
Support her when she makes this decision. Her family aren't monsters, but they aren't entitled to be part of her life. She can make her own family from you, her friends, and anyone else she chooses to share herself with. She doesn't need the one that nature preselected.
He's either lost some interest in you sexually, or he's going through a depression, or there is something he wants but can't ask for/has been denied to him. I understand one of those is easier to hear than the others, but none are anything you want.
Look around his life for signs of depression. Does he seem unmotivated? Is he maintaining his appearance? When he talks about the future, does he sound excited by it, or does he avoid the topic entirely? If he is going through a low period there are probably indicators you're both overlooking.
Is there any indication he has a fetish that you won't share with him? For example, if the man is really into feet and you won't have anything to do with feet, there's going to be a lot of masturbation and less sex. Sometimes a man doesn't know how to ask, other times he's been rejected in the past and can't bear asking again.
You can't rely on him to tell you the truth about this. He'll never cop to losing interest in you sexually. If you've been together for awhile and he's a good guy, he's not going to feel comfortable letting the words, "I'm sorry, I'm not as into you sexually as I used to be," cross his lips. For many people, there's no greater insult. He knows that and doesn't want to hurt you. He'll likely not want to admit it to himself and he'll deny it all day long to you. So you'll have to be honest with yourself and take a truthful inventory of his behavior.
90% of the time when a man loses interest in a woman sexually, it has little to do with sex. You likely perform well and still look beautiful to him. It has much more to do with his feeling on the relationship as a whole and where it fits into his life. He might be in a rut or he might be over it. There's no way to tell until you get past the hurt and look at it as objectively as you can.
Concern yourself with your own happiness.
90% of the time people fixate on each other, they're doing so as a means of avoiding their own problems. Think about it. How often do you see a well-adjusted man/woman with a healthy sense of self perseverating on an ex? Never. You might detect the sadness in them that you'd expect from anyone who lost a piece of their life, but you don't find that same "I must have her/him or I must know that he/she is as unhappy as me" undercurrent unhealthy people have.
Focus on you. Are you where you want to be in life? Do you have goals that are relevant to you? Are you working towards them? Is your living space the sort of place you're happy to call home? Or is it a mess? Are you out of shape? Do you eat right? Do you exercise? Do you feel capable academically and/or in your career? Do you have confidence in social situations?
Junkies report the scariest thing about getting clean is finding out you have more than one problem. What are your problems? The ex won't cut it. He/she isn't a real problem. He/she is an excuse to focus on something other than the things you should be. Recognize that and prioritize her/him accordingly: At the bottom.
This isn't as delicate as you think it is. Your kid won't understand fully, but there is a context she can frame this in.
Drug addicts are sick people. Sick the same way someone with cancer is. Sick the same way someone with malaria is sick. They're ill, not evil. This woman has probably put you and/or your partner through the ringer and you've probably seen her make decisions that seem fully conscious but still incredibly hurtful. So you may not be able to write grandma off as "sick." You may want accountability for what she's done and sick isn't going to cut it for you. I understand.
But it will cut it for your daughter. "Grandma is sick. Too sick to see us right now. I hope she's well enough to see us soon." That word choice does your daughter a service for the future. It's not a lie, and it reinforces the idea that people struggling with addictions have a relatable condition. It's not a demon taking control of someone, it's an illness. Your daughter understands illness, so put this in her head at a young age.
[cont] doesn't respond when I attempt to talk to him about the severe implications of his lifestyle. Any advice on how I can break through to him before he has his first heart attack or type 2 diabetes?
No. Not really.
The reality is that people only change when they're motivated to and, for most, motivation comes during a moment of clarity and not from the support of people around them (support plays a part after). You can create a bottom for that person by removing lines of support and hopefully instigate a moment of clarity. But the constant positive reinforcement and support you want to offer your brother will likely fall on deaf ears until that time. You changed your ways when you faced a seriously decreased quality of life. He may need the same wake-up call, unfortunately.
A friend of mine who was very aware of the health concerns of smoking said that I caused her to quit by offering that it also destroys the cells in your face, causing you to look older at a young age. Everyone (myself included) telling her she would die or face a decreased quality of life didn't impact her. It was only an offhand remark I made playing to her vanity that actually motivated her.
But I never would have been able to guess that would be her trigger. It was luck. You could try a similar tact with your brother and offer that he'll never get the sort of women he'd like to have if he doesn't put energy into his appearance. But it's a shot in the dark, really. You can't ever really know what someone's wake-up call is. And the longer you push on the same buttons, the less they'll impact your brother. He'll zone you out and every time you raise a new point, he'll see it as part of your agenda.
Keep trying because it's what you do when you care about someone, but understand that it will be similar to beating your head against a wall most of the time. You can try different strategies (I'd grab the best looking members of whatever gender he's into and have them point out that they aren't attracted to genitals they can't find) but, again, you're going to be frustrated often. My best advice is to be there for him when the inevitable happens and he finally understands he does need a change. At that point you can offer him guidance and he may actually understand and appreciate it. Hopefully that doesn't happen too late.
Don't be so quick to make that person a former best friend.
There's plenty of reasons to be bummed. You thought you had something (maybe you did) and now you don't have it. Loss, in a word. But as I'm sure someone has already told you: Losing things it the price of having things. So if you had a good thing (or just a thing that gave you knowledge), you now have to pay for that experience. Life most often works like a sit-down restaurant and not a deli. You get to experience the product before you pay. You experienced it, all the good and all the bad. Now the check arrives.
Your friend and ex aren't taking your feelings into consideration. But should they? How much longer than a year would you have them wait? Another year? 10 years? At what point do your old feelings play a backseat to their new feelings?
Power through the emotional roadblocks by using pure reason. What actually happened? You and a woman no longer spend time together. She spends time with another man. You happen to know him. That's what actually happened. Your emotional spin on the events is what's killing you, not the events themselves.
Look at it like an allergic reaction. Most allergic reactions are to non-poisonous stimuli your body mistakenly insists IS poisonous. That misdirected response your body puts out accidently kills you. The thing it issued the response to was never a threat. Your body killed itself. Same idea applies. Your friend and your ex are no threat to you. You have your own life and potential paths that have nothing to do with their romance. Don't allow the allergic reaction to kill you here. Keep a distance if you have to for your mental health, but don't wish anyone bad luck or insist that they are no longer part of your life. You might be surprised how friends stay friends and old lovers become friends, no matter how it may look/feel at the moment.
Power through. You got this. Bigger problems and greater rewards are both in your future. This is small potatoes.
Let it bother you.
Seems counterintuitive, but it's the right move. If someone is depressed about his/her looks the last thing they want is their partner saying, "I'm cool with whatever." It makes them feel even less like a sexual being.
Make it clear that your sex life matters to you and you want to get the most out of it. You want to look good and be able to perform for her, and you know that she wants the same for herself.
Remind her that, of course, there is more to her than her body. But don't shy away from the fact that ALL bodies are a work in progress and she should be making progress instead of thinking about it.
Exercise with her. Low-impact stuff that keeps the body moving. Walking even. Burning two calories is better than burning zero or ingesting more. A spinning class is fun for couples and challenging as hell.
Adhere to the same diet. Make it natural instead of the focus. If she's thinking, "I can't have a cookie," she'll want a cookie. If she's thinking, "I'd like some fresh mango," she wins because cookie never entered the equation. That's partly your job. Don't stress diet; live it instead.
Don't get frustrated. You'll but heads with her because it's difficult to gain momentum against depression. But every sliver of ground you gain is going to help the woman you care about. Work hard at it.
In all likelihood it reflects and amplifies your attitudes. If you expose yourself to enough of anything, you'll come to believe it's normal.
However, you should not feel guilty. Sex is a creative endeavor and, like art, can be an outlet that doesn't need analyzation. Can you enjoy literature with violent themes while maintaining a reasoned and non-violent approach to your daily life? 100%. Can you hum along with "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" from Cabaret without becoming a national socialist? I think you probably can. Can you express yourself sexually any way you please with a consenting partner and not behave that way in your place of work or when calling your mother on the phone? Yes.
People are more complex than political orientations allow for. Those things are just rough outlines you should never feel guilty for deviating from. You're a human being, not a caricature. You know what we call a buddhist monk who enjoys Jean Claude Van Damme movies? A well-rounded person. Same for the progressive who enjoys playing the dominant roll in his/her sex life.
Provided you always respect your partner and the dominance you're into is fully amenable to her, don't waste a second of your life feeling guilty.
That's all there is to it. Both parties have to be prepared for what the agreement entails. It's painful if an understanding can't be made, but it's even more damaging when partners enter into a long-distance relationship and one of the two can't meet his/her responsibilities.
People change their minds all the time, but they typically stay within parameters. Those parameters are, roughly, what we'd call a personality. Before embarking on a long-distance relationship, people have to know themselves. "Is this something I can do?" is a valid question, but more importantly, "is this something I WANT to do?" Can you be alone? Do you need intimacy to reaffirm how someone feels about you? What are your goals regarding the relationship?
Being truthful with oneself, and being able to admit to an ugly answer, will benefit both parties in the end.
It's also worth saying that as important as it is that you know yourself, you should also know your partner. You should be able to take a step back and do your best to look at the situation objectively. What do you know about this person? Is he/she very needy? Is he/she very flakey? Is he/she wrapped up in a moment or are they more of a big-picture sort of person? Being honest with yourself is critical, but it's a two-party arrangement and being honest about your partner is just as necessary. Remind yourself that someone being flakey or just not built for the long haul isn't a crime. You can be a wonderful person and not be made for a long-distance relationship. If your partner is that sort of person- consider parting on warm terms now instead of pressing them into a mold they can't fit.
cont "To be more specific with regards to my "sexual performance" question, my erections are softer and increasingly difficult to muster. At this point it seems to be feeding into a cycle wherein I get so nervous about this that it makes it even worse."
Something you have over a lot of men with the same problem is your ability to think critically about it. Many men experience this problem and overthink the ramifications without being solution-minded and examining the cause. Fixating on what it means to have the problem instead of what it means to remedy it keeps men in a cycle of "why is this happening to me, I'LL NEVER PLEASE A WOMAN I'M A FAILURE I'LL NEVER HAVE ANYTHING OF VALUE I'M NOT A MAN I SUCK".
The intelligent approach is, "why is this happening to me?" Period.
While this could be a physiological issue (low testosterone and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute) and I still advise you to speak to your doctor about it, I think it's likely that you're suffering from chronic psych-out. You probably had a bad experience, which could have been brought on by any number of things (pressure; illness; some men don't perform well in condoms; discomfort) and it snowballed. Letting go of that isn't easy once it's compounded and gotten out of control, but you can do it.
Performance anxiety often comes from a lifetime of watching porn where the expectation is you'll be rock hard for an hour of relentless pumping. When men can't live up to that, their bodies respond with a sort of malaise. Even if the mind is willing, the body often goes Charlie Brown and feels sorry for itself. At that point, any little complication (woman needing additional foreplay or lube, interruption by phone, etc) becomes a shutoff switch. Find yourself a partner you don't OWE anything. Someone you don't need to impress at all. Maybe a friend. Maybe a sex-worker. Maybe someone who has seen this in a partner before. Someone you can fail in front of without feeling like a failure. Build your confidence the same way you would in any other aspect of life: practice, examination of what is and is not working, further practice. DO NOT PERSEVERATE ON THINGS GOING WRONG. FOCUS ON WHAT WORKS EACH TIME AND MAXIMIZE THOSE ASPECTS THE NEXT TIME OUT.
The temptation is to loosen yourself up by drinking. Don't. It only makes the problem worse when you eventually want to date someone and they are left wondering why you can only be with them while drunk.
Final word on the subject: Just because you're in your 20s doesn't mean that your body isn't experiencing peaks and valleys of sexual interest. This may be a phase your body is going through based on external concerns. Your head may just be elsewhere. These are not terrible things to admit and don't rob you of your manhood. Try working through it. If you don't see any progress, visit a doctor and move forward with whatever approach he/she thinks is best.
I know it's a fine line between supporting a person and supporting their behavior, but this is one instance where you may need to split the difference and just show up.
Your brother may be broke, strung-out, and divorced in a year, but he'll still be your brother. The reality is, he's likely not prepared for marriage. But few people are. I know it's difficult, but try not to personalize his decisions. You'd attend the wedding of a friend or coworker who you knew was destined for divorce, right? Then why not your brother?
The only case I see for not attending is if you view the wedding as part-and-parcel to his addiction. If you want to take a stand on your brother's self-destructive behavior by not supporting what you see as clear symptoms of it, that's fine. But you owe it to him to explain why you have taken that stand. If you can't get your family and his friends to join you in drawing a bottom line, then distance yourself as you see fit. But look him in the eye and tell him why first.
Even without what we traditionally think of as abuse, there is so much damage a parent can do by example. Being suspicious of others and insecure about oneself are traits that almost always find themselves in children of parents who behave that way.
First order of business is to view your parents as objectively as possible. See them for what they are: People you love, but people nevertheless. When you look at your mother, don't see a monolith, see a woman in the second half of her life struggling against mental blockades she's had since youth. Likewise for your father.
Now, ask yourself, would you value these people's opinions if you weren't related to them? Would you allow your self-image to be vandalized by things they say if they were total strangers? Probably not.
Get away. Recognize your parents' failings, then push off from them. Be loving, be polite, but distance yourself. Go off to school; pursue a job out of town; get out. It's not a cure, but it's a start of treatment.
From there, it's on you to remind yourself often that there is no benefit to bitterness and there is no advantage made through self-doubt. You're going to have to force yourself into situations and you're going to have to process the outcomes of those in a reasonable way. It will take time to remove the filter your parents put on your worldview, but it's far from impossible. When you push people away through your behavior or miss out on things you want because of hesitation, ask yourself where all that came from. If the answer is your folks, you know to act differently next time. If you find yourself wallowing in self-pity, sternly remind yourself that there have been people who have overcome far more than you're being asked to. You are only as damaged as you allow yourself to be. Exercise your grip on reality the same way you'd exercise a muscle. Only through repetition do we ever really perfect anything.
First, understand that only a fraction of people who seem to know themselves actually do. While you might find your situation discouraging, you're certainly not alone. It's also worth saying, that even those of us with a solid grip on "who we are" can be placed in a situation that challenges that in an instant. Who can ever know who they are until they've been tested? And who can say with certainty that a second test would yield the same result?
I'm not suggesting you give up the quest for identity. I'm only reminding you that we're not stiff archetypes, we're human and that's a more fluid thing than most of us understand.
Insofar as learning about yourself, I think you can only expect answers from scientific inquiry. What you want to be is what comes out in the wash when you get tossed around by life. That will become clear when you've put yourself in enough situations to see what works and what doesn't. Test yourself. Put yourself in situations you're not familiar with or comfortable with. You'll learn your natural inclinations and from there you can determine how far you are from what you want to be and what needs changing.
This has the potential to be stressful and, at it's very worst, socially crippling. Depending on your age, there's a lot of misconceptions and misplaced stigmas. I'm happy to inform you: If you're 19 and freaking out about this, understand that 30-year-olds don't care. I mean, they don't want herpes, but they fully recognize it as something that happens to a great many people and there's almost no stigma on that virus for adults.
But you probably don't want to wait until 30 before having an honest sexual relationship, so lets talk about your problem as it is.
If you're committed to being honest with your partner (good idea) you likely won't be having much casual sex from here on out. Your situation requires an added level of trust between yourself and your partner: his/her safety and your privacy (though really, that always should be the case). That's not something you can achieve from the typical casual exchange. But it is something you can have with a well-chosen and kind partner. Kindness should now be one of the chief traits you look for in a partner because a kind person will view discretion as a natural extension of their love. It's someone who understands your health is your business and the business of those you share it with, no one else's. That's it. That's the magic trick to navigating life with a disease (of any kind).
As far as the actual moment you tell him/her: Don't wait until you're scrambling for a condom before sex. And on the flip-side, don't make it a ceremony you plan out for weeks just to build up to, "Hey, I've got something a lot of people have." Split the difference on those two approaches. When you're getting closer to someone and you think the relationship is approaching the point you'd feel comfortable with sex: go out for a nice evening, have fun, then return home and say to the person, "Hey, I'm into you. I don't want to be presumptuous but it looks like all this making-out may go a little further soon. I just need to tell you beforehand that I've got a situation..." and then explain exactly what that means. Explain the scientific facts of it, because 90% of people are operating off old-wives' tales or bad jokes. Tell him/her that their health is important to you and you wouldn't do anything to risk it. You understand your condition well and won't ever knowingly put a partner in a situation. Then make it clear that it's on them. No pressure.
You may be rejected one out of every hundred times. Any more than that, and it's a reflection on your choice in men. Most partners, when educated on the subject, are willing to see it as it is: an inconvenience but not so large of one that it would prevent them from being with someone they care about. Be confident in that.