In which Epimetheus may be the bad guy.. (relationship advice)

So I really have to ask this, because I think my paranoia clouds things and fresh outsider views are greatly appreciated and potentially helpful.

See, the thing is, I have been in a serious relationship with a girl for nearly a year and 3-4 months. I love her enough to make many sacrifices, one of which is the hardest for many guys (or at least me), that of no sex.

We do mess around, mind you, and while I can count on two hands the number of times in the 15-16 months we have been together in which I was on the receiving end of certain ministrations, I enjoy giving even when I receive nothing in return.

That said, my GF recently graduated college with her degree in Physical Therapy. I say this only because I am certain it plays a role (not the particular degree but the level of schooling and the fact that her graduation is recent). In the last few months (a month or two before she actually graduated), I have felt a sort of rift form between us. I don’t know if it is her growing up, or her getting more distant, or what. I asked her about it, and she told me she has had a lot on her mind (she has had to study for her board exams until last weekend).

Unfortunately for me (and possibly her), our “messing around” sessions have dwindled from several times a week while she was in school, to several times a month, down to 1 time this last month. We have had several discussions and a couple fights about this topic, and her defense is as follows:

  1. She is stressed right now and can’t get in the mood.

  2. Vagina’s and penises are different and she can’t get in the mood at the drop of a hat. *

I put the star there, because a drop of a hat apparently is me sending flowers to her work on Friday, taking her out to a fancy dinner, complementing her profusely on her exquisite beauty (though I do that on a normal day), and taking her back home to watch a romantic movie with some wine and tasty cheese, followed by a 30-40 minute back massage and plenty of cuddling.

She talks to her Ex-Boyfriend, a guy in his mid-30’s (I am 30, she is 23), of whom she met and cheated with while with a guy she was with for 3 years. When I say she talks, well he lives out of state, but he calls 4-5 times a week and they apparently talk for 30 minutes to an hour. I think the IM each other regularly too. I am not entirely comfortable with this and she is aware of it. Which made her reluctant to tell me he was in town for the 3rd of July and wanted to meet up for her lunch break, which ended up being a dinner date. The previous weekend she barred me from visiting her on the weekend so she could catch up with her studying, only to find out she went to lunch with an “old friend” who happened to be a male.

Now, part of this all screams “cheating.” and I have confronted her on this, but she swears up and down (and is hurt at my suggestions) that she is not interested in this other guy and she is done with her Ex. Ok, I can live with that. I can even see where she wouldn’t have much time to cheat on me, as I come down ever weekend or we go to KC. She visits me from Jefferson City once or twice a week (though not when she was studying).

I have had many bad experiences in which I was cheated on, several with my (at the time) best friend, he was apparently sleeping with mine and another friends girlfriends every chance he could.

My current GF claims to be a virgin and is waiting for marriage. At 23 it isn’t impossible to believe. She is quite a looker, but is a bit of a nerd (how I like em) and sometimes quite naive, which makes me think it may not be an act, and all my thoughts are delusions of my paranoia.

But… the lack of “sex” drive… she receives, I don’t, so I don’t understand why she has lost interest. One of the big signs of cheating is just that, right? I HAVE gained 20 lbs in the last 6 months or so I’d say, well ever since Thanksgiving, but I was very skinny to begin with and she has put on equal weight, so I’m not sure that is it. I asked her about it, if she thought I was no longer attractive, but she denies it.

So am I the bad guy here? Being paranoid and confrontational? I want to trust wholeheartedly, but if she were cheating, she wouldn’t likely admit it, and would deny it as vehemently as if she weren’t. Right?

addendum: I write this after a long shift at work and a pint into trying to sleep, so if it is lacking something, feel free to ask and I will clarify. I know I am leaving out something, just can’t think of what.

Not enough info to go on, but one of the things I’ve learned over the years is:

a)Libidos almost never match
b)That shouldn’t mean that one person is always on the wrong end of things, sex wise.

It sounds like you’re not happy in the relationship and the only person that can do anything about that is her. If the two of you have differences great enough, then perhaps the path it being, uh, laid out before you.

IMHO, knowing what I know at 37, I wouldn’t EVER stay with someone that was ‘waiting for marriage’. That is an A-1 Plutonium Bomb waiting to go off. 16 years after losing my virginity, that first sex act was with someone I didn’t end up with. I’m glad. It let me get it out of the way and learn some more important relationship things along the way. It seems like the best relationships are with people that are concerned about each other…and show the scars of learning that importance from past relationships.

A decrease in sex-drive, even if she receives, can well be due to stress and nothing else. Don’t make that the lynchpin in any theory about her cheating (and I have no idea whether or not she is).

Crap, in rereading my post, I never got around to the point:

You two need to REALLY communicate. That’s where one person says something, the other person listens, then you swap sides. It’s not about ‘winning the fight’, it’s not about ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’, its not about ‘I’m not getting what I want so you must suffer.’

If that’s not happening, it needs to.

‘She’s cheating’ doesn’t jump out at me after reading your account of things. And despite what all the magazines say, I’ve never found any real link between a candlelit dinner and a woman’s libido. It is completely plausible that stress just isn’t letting her get into the moment, which is key for most women getting off. So if she knows she’s not going to get off, she’d rather just keep it friendly 'til she can relax. As for the ex thing, it sounds more like she’s got crap priorities and is maybe doing a bit of emotional cheating (or something). I really doubt she’d lie about being a virgin, though.

Dude, you’re not paranoid. She may not be cheating, but she’s not interested anymore in continuing your relationship.

One of those flags may be caused by what she says, but not all of them together within a short period of time.

She’s probably not cheating on you sexually, if that’s your concern. However, there are LOTS of red flags waving around in front of you, so it’s good you’re starting to notice them.

She’s giving the same amount of intimacy, or more, to her male friends that she’s givng to you. Are you OK with that? Sexual activity is one of the – but not only – things that sets a romantic relationship apart from friendship. Of course women can and do have platonic friendships with other men, but when your girlfriend carves time out of her studying specifically to see someone when she won’t extend the same privilege to you, well? That ain’t cool.

I’m also somewhat amazed that you aren’t more resentful of how lopsided your sexplay is. She’s set up a pattern for you that is NOT going to improve. If you ever do sleep with her, it will not magically transform her from a selfish, passive lover into someone who reciprocates or, at minimum, recognizes and honors your desires. Do you really want to continue to be with someone who just can’t be bothered to give you a mutually satisfying sex life? Even girls who want to stay virgins until married desire their boyfriends and find ways of showing it.

Also, vaginas and penises have little to do with getting in the mood, whether at the drop of a hat or no. Being in the mood is about what’s in your head and in your heart. I understand how stress can impact one’s libido, but killing it off entirely is another matter.

I’d echo what Unintentionally Blank said if you want to work through this: really communicate with her. You deserve to know the status of your relationship, and you owe it to her AND yourself to establish what the ground rules are.

I feel like I’ve been in your girlfriend’s shoes.
My first year of college I was dating a guy that I had been with since the previous winter. I was away at school for the first time, trying to maintain a high gpa to keep a scholarship in a rigorous program. My boyfriend was back at home 45min away, living with his parents, and had dropped out of college and was working.
He had trouble understanding that when I said, “No, I can’t get together with you this weekend because I’m studying for a calculus test,” I really meant “I’m studying for a calculus test.” I did not mean, “I want to break up with you and/or am seeing someone else.” When I talked to old (male) friends that were just friends, they were really just friends. They were not ex-boyfriends or potential future boyfriends or current second boyfriends on the side. The paranoia and lack of trust was a real turn off.
Also at the time I was waiting for marriage for sex. That lasted until the next year and the next boyfriend, and no, I wasn’t married. I realize in hindsight that I was waiting for the right person. I didn’t want to admit to myself and my boyfriend that deep down I wasn’t as into him as he was into me. (no pun intended, of course)

I’m not saying your girlfriend is or is not cheating on you, and I’m not saying you’re acting paranoid. What I do see is that you lack trust in her. Is this something you can work out? Does your lack of trust show to her? Your post makes me think that there are loud alarm bells going off in your head that probably shouldn’t be ignored. This doesn’t make you the bad guy. It does mean that the two of you have some talking to do.

She doesn’t have time for you, but has time to talk to her ex for 30 minutes to an hour 4-5 times a week. Head, meet clue by four.

My thoughts:

Being in a relationship is give and take and both people putting effort into it, and it sounds to me like all the effort is being put into it by you and none by her.

To me, sex is an important way to make and maintain a deep connection with the person you are in a relationship with, and that means that sometimes you put yourself to the effort even when you’re actually not in the mood – too tired, too stressed, whatever. I’m not talking about going through the motions or faking orgasm; I’m talking about recognizing that the other party to the relationship has needs and desires that are entitled to your attention even if you’d just as soon pass if it was entirely up to you. Because it shouldn’t be entirely up to you all the time. To me, months and months of “I don’t feel like it, and I’m not willing to try to feel like it or do it anyway with a good heart and effort” are a very bad sign for a relationship.

I don’t know if she’s cheating on you, but I would not be surprised if she does in the future. It doesn’t sound to me like she’s that in to you anymore. It also sounds like you deserve better, IMO. But my opinion is probably colored by my own experiences; having been profoundly lonely in the past, I would never take a partner for granted as she seems to be doing: A person you can love is a gift. But 23 is pretty young and she may not have figured that out yet.

Thanks for saving me all the typing, Sean. This is pretty much exactly what I was getting from the OP. :slight_smile:

The amount of time and energy she spends on the ex is a red flag for me, too. I’m the kind of person whose ex’s are completely ex; my time, attention, and focus is on my current relationship, not divided between current and ex. She might not be cheating on you, Epi, but she’s short-changing your relationship.

I think it’s time to sit down with her and have a long, serious conversation about her getting all the way in or getting out of her relationship with you.

ETA: There is nothing wrong with wanting a fulfilling sex life. I want a man who comes home after work instead of going out drinking; you want good, regular sex; it’s not selfish to want what we want.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I will take it to heart and have some discussions about it. We have had similar discussions and in which I asked her if she saw me as more than a friend or if she was still attracted to me. She claims she still loves me and is attracted to me.

The bad thing is a month or so ago I bought an expensive engagement ring and was planning on dropping the question this weekend. I suppose I will still ask, part of me will just be guarded emotionally in case she says no.

I also probably let some bias in my words, and only put the bad in, clouding the perception of her. It is possible, I suppose, that a lot of it is me and how I perceive things. Or not, I can’t be certain.

Also as for the sex… well as much as I don’t like to admit it, I only had on other GF in my past which would go down on me as it were. And then only a few times. I come from a fundamentalist Christian household and I think that causes some psychological issues that make it damn near impossible for me to climax during oral. I tell her (and it is true) that it isn’t a lack of skill on her part, but perhaps my lack of… ah, apparent satisfaction is a turn off or hurts her emotionally. I didn’t mention that part, but it is an ongoing problem for me.

I figure after awhile I will get used to it on a psychological level as I become used to it, but it has to happen regularly for me to adapt to it and accept it enough to climax I suppose.

Noooo! If you are having concerns about the relationship, do NOT escalate it. That’s like having kids to “save” a marriage.

Don’t pop the question. Do ask some questions–I second the advice of sitting down and having a long talk. This might also be a place, if you think it’s warranted, where a (professional, not Doper) third party’s advice would be handy…

Lose her. Put the ring on ebay and buy yourself something really cool.

As an old married lady (OK, I’m only 2 years older than you, but I’ve been married for 10 years), DO NOT do this. Even if you are painting a lopsided picture of her here, there are red flags in your relationship, and those must be dealt with before you make the relationship any more permanent. “I suppose I will still ask” sounds like you’re just doing it because you “should”, because you’ve been together so long or because you bought a ring. Bad way to start a marriage.

While I don’t quite agree with Jodi that none of the effort is being put into the relationship by your girlfriend, she does seem to be putting in significantly less than you need.

Take some hours to yourself and think about what you need in a relationship. How much of a time commitment do you require? What kind of exclusivity? What kind of behaviors do you need from a mate? Write it down, show it to your girlfriend, and ask her if that’s something she can give. Have her do the same. Right now, you may not be able to give each other what you both need, and that’s just an unfortunate fact sometimes.

See, I actually disagree with that. Unless you’re spending the weekend saving babies from burning buildings, then you can find some time to see your SO at some point during that weekend. Maybe you can’t do dinner and a movie, but you can at least schedule a 1 hour study break in the campus Starbucks. When you’re a partner with someone then you make time for them, even if its inconvenient. I know that was a minor point in the OP but for me, being banned for an entire weekend would be a huge flag.

Which is like fucking for virginity.

You know, proposing at this point in time is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Its a really bad idea that will only make things worse. At some point, you need to get something out of this relationship too. When you guys “have sex”, she receives not you? She won’t see you for the weekend but will make time to hang with a friend? She spends a total of 4 hours a week on the phone with this guy, and she cheated with him while dating someone else? Does that mean she slept with him?

Why are you still in this relationship at all? Run away from this? Get out now while you still can. If you get married to this girl, you will wind up spending a shitload of money on a divorce attorney.

If you don’t look out for your needs, no one else will. From what you are saying here, she doesn’t give a damn about either your physical needs or your emotional ones.

You’re not the bad guy here, but you do need to get the hell out of this relationship IMO. A healthy relationship is formed on rough equivalency of feelings, whether this be trust, sexual attention, future plans, or what-have-you. A few major red flags here:

  1. Sexual cheatery or not, the fact that she spends so much time and effort on an ex-BF is distressing. Talking for an hour 5x a week is not ‘good friends.’ It may not be lovers either, but it’s definitely a strong connection, and one with deep emotional investment by both parties. I personally would not feel acceptable with this. If I ever changed it would be after marriage, after I was able to completely trust my partner.

About the trust thing… a healthy level of mistrust is completely appropriate in relationships IMO. It takes an extreme amount of effort and time to completely know a person, and even then sometimes things change. While personally I am a very open and (over)trusting person, I as a result get my heart broken more times than not. My point is that keeping your heart relatively open or closed is a personal decision, and either way does not make you a bad guy.

  1. The feelings in this relationship seem uneven. We dont know how she feels, and thus given your thoughts so far, it seems that the depth and sincerity of feelings is not even. You express a desire to get married. Has she ever talked about this? This coupled with #1, the mismatch of libido, and a myriad of little concerns, gives me the oogly-booglies about your relationship.

Thus I recommend getting out. If that’s not an option, then talk to her and tell her what you told us.