Savage Love Letter of the Day: This Boy Or That Boy And Other False Choices


I really have to respond to this because I stayed in a relationship WAY too long (8 years) because I thought that's what you did - you work to make it work. I finally hit the road and have been with the most wonderful person for 9 years now. Not a day goes by that I am not over*fucking*joyed that I left my past relationship. My new partner is kind, giving, makes me happy, and it's not work to make it work. If you are miserable in your relationship, if it's work to make it work, you are doing it wrong.
Oh, my gosh, no! Long relationships shouldn't be difficult! Some of the choices you have to make during the long relationship can be difficult, but what makes a relationship last is the ease with which the people meet each other's needs. Choose someone and love them? No, meet someone you like a whole lot, someone you get along with, and treat them with esteem, affection, and appreciation. If they do the same for you, voila. The years fly by.
@1+2 applauds.

I am sorry lw, but dtmfa please. I couldn't have made it four years without sex.
Been in nearly the same boat @1. I think LW should walk, but don't run to your ex. Just be single, date, be whatever "normal" version of yourself makes you happy for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if his partner is relieved once it's over as well.

Two things jumped out at me though:

"My ex... He bails on people when they get too close—really classic defensive stuff."

Maybe, or maybe he just isn't interested in a serious relationship with the people he's been dating. I think that's called... dating. LW will have more insight than me, but it sounds like LW could be the defensive one here. Coupled with—

"Don't you just pick someone and love them?"

Long term relationships sure can be work, but I certainly wouldn't frame them that way. Might be a good time for either some solo, self-examination. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.
The relationship with the current boi may or may not be workable but the one with the ex sounds toxic.
I read this today:
And it was deeply relevant to my life, and I think that it's rather relevant to yours too, letter writer.
Also, 1&2, YES
@5 - Not sure why Dan didn't address that.
@6: Boy, that's a good one.
6- Thanks.

All- Make sure you check the mouseover: Of course, "Number of times I've gotten to make a decision twice to know for sure how it would have turned out" is still at 0.

TBD- Pay close attention to the header, the part about false choices. Break up with the depressed guy who isn't giving you good sex. Do not try to open out the relationship which, from the situation you describe would lead to nothing but heartache. But do not run to try a relationship with Ex. There is a another possiblilty: Date! Start dating. Start dating as a single young person (female, right?) who owns a small artistic business with her ex but who is romantically unencumbered. Find a guy who is not depressed, who loves you and whom you love and who also shares the same goals. (BTW, if you want a relationship that includes sex and Boyfriend doesn't, then you don't share the same goals.) The sex may not be as great as it is with cross-county guy, but it will undoubtedly be better than what you've got with depressed guy. Find him. He's out there.
@Fichu: I had that link in my paste buffer, ready to post at the end of this, before I saw that you beat me to it. Nicely done.
Ack, sorry, that was @GoodOmens @6.
Why doesn't the LW talk honestly about the future with the ex ?

He's not a sex-bot that's guarenteed to be on board with the future she is dreaming of.

Maybe call him and ask what he would do/say/feel if she was available? And demand he is honest. The honest answer might be relevant to her plans.
TBD, you can't stop thinking about you ex for the following reason: attraction + obstacles = passion. You're hot for your ex, who lives cross country, who is emotionally unavailable, and you're in a relationship. My money is that if those obstacles disappeared, so would your interest in your ex.

Anyway, your current relationship sounds about as much fun as sitting in a waiting room for an appointment whose time may never come. That seems like being stuck in purgatory. You only get on ride in life, and it's time you found yourself a new partner.
Somebody said: a good relationship is work like a good job is work. You put a lot into it, but mostly because you want to. It's got parts that are a slog -- sometimes long parts, if you have kids -- but more parts you love. If that balance goes the other direction, you don't have to keep at it.

Good luck, TBD. I'm not going to try to advise you about your relationship, but I will advise you not to jump to the ex (and definitely don't do "cheat since it's easier than breaking up directly", it sucks). Take some time to yourself, time to date, NSA sex if that's a thing you do, the perspective can give you surprises.
Wait, why hasn't someone said something about them not having kids?

I thought that it was mandatory.
@MLM, Fichu and ciods - Thank you
I waited 30 years for my marriage to improve. Sex once a year, and grudging at that. I finally D'd TMFA and have been in a hot, fabulous relationship for three years to someone who loves sex just as much as I do! He is passionate, caring, kind, and in it for the long haul. My friends say that my joy makes me nearly unrecognizable now. This could be waiting for YOU, but you have to make the move. DTMFA.
What strikes me about the LW is that she (I assume) has 2 boys on the line, yet they both have fatal relationship flaws. Dan did mention it as seeking out her own therapy but to be explicit - some introspection might help root cause her fraught relationships with men. Then it's time to find a new man who is much better relationship material.

For the record LW you have the sentiment backwards - you find someone you love and then you feel compelled to stay. Relationships indeed are hard but not hard in the way your 2 described relationships have been. They are hard because life is damn hard. People have hardships like unemployment, sickness, natural disasters (to name a personal top 3 for me) that take work to get through and at times might make relating to one another difficult. But the love you share is the easy part - it's the bedrock you rely upon when life goes sideways.
@6 good omens. Spot on. Xkcd is great. I definitely stayed in my first marriage way too long. A toxic mix of "I can't do any better" and "depression.

I should have moved on long before.
LW might be concerned that she'll never be in another long term relationship again. It is possible.
You're not nailed to the first chair you sit down in in musical chairs, no, but for some people, they never sit down in another chair ever again.

That said, being single has lots of perks too!
LW says "Every few months we go into crisis mode because he doesn't feel satisfied with his life and projects it onto our relationship." Um, he's not projecting. A partner who regularly "doesn't like his job, doesn't like where we live, wants to feel free, resents me" has one foot out the door already. A person who can't have sex with you because the relationship / their feelings are so fraught is not going to heal up and be all better after talking about it with a therapist for a while. This is who he is. Neither of you likes the life you have together. Stop convincing him to stay. Stop convincing yourself that you have to work so hard. There are better lives out there for both of you. Play with the ex if you want, but the ex has also clearly told you who he is and what he wants, and what he wants is passionate flings, not a cozy nest with you.
I find the "I can't do any better" mindset strange. Maybe you can indeed "not do any better", but if "it" makes you unhappy, why do it al all?
1) Neither one of these guys is the right guy for you. Guy #2 is the green grass on the other side of the fence. You only want him because he's out of reach. If you jumped the fence, you'd soon be just as unhappy, maybe more, because he can fuck, but he can't do all the other things you need to be fulfilled.
2) Why is this an A or B situation? There are literally millions of other guys out there. Go find a better fit. Yes, relationships can be hard, but they shouldn't be too hard. You have to learn the art of compromise, but if you are constantly compromising it's a sign that the two of you really aren't on the same wavelength. Don't waste your life trying to fit his square peg into your round hole. You'll both be better off.
3) Sex is more important than you think. It's not the only thing, but without it, you'll feel ever more distance from your partner and that will translate to all other aspects of your relationship. (I'm talking, of course, about people who want sex, but aren't getting it, not the asexual crowd.) I've been there and learned that lesson the hard way. Now I'm with a lady who is a MUCH better fit, sex is great, and I'll never waste time in a non-sexual relationship again.
4) Get some counseling. Find out why you're so determined to make one of these two bad choices!
TBD, I will add to the Greek chorus of commenters here in saying that "NEITHER" is your best choice between these two men. However, I will add an aspect that I don't think has been mentioned previously. Could it be that you are misinterpreting that strong urge to move cross-country for your hot ex, even though you doubt he could accept you as anything more than the occasional hookup that you already are?

Maybe your inner voice is really urging you to LEAVE the guy you're with - not for a distant lover who may or may not be waiting to swoop you up in his arms, but for yourself, so you will once again have the freedom to choose a man who's truly right for you. If you value your artistic collaboration with the "brilliant" BF who currently dumps all of his negative thoughts and energy on you to manage, you can probably find a way to continue your artistic partnership as platonic friends, either via the Internet or through occasional visits to each others' home cities. It sounds like your love relationship has already devolved to that level anyway. And if the single life ever starts to feel lonely, you can always jet out to visit the ex for an exhilarating weekend of NSA sex play. But since you have already attracted two men who each thrill you in different ways, I wouldn't worry too much about living alone for the rest of your life - not that there's anything wrong with that, as several commenters have already noted, and others surely will.

I do recommend that you move far, far away from both of these men, in order to make it more difficult to fall back into their respective spheres of influence. There must be a place you've always dreamed of living, or perhaps a place you've been that would welcome your return. Go there, and create the life you want rather than the current life you feel stuck in. Make a general plan for moving out, and then just go to your new place and see what happens next.

Also, for LW and anyone else who is currently struggling in an unhappy or blatantly unequal relationship: the expression "Love Takes Work" refers to forgiving each other's human flaws (but not outrageous repeat offenses), considering your partner's feelings and desires on an equal par with your own, and committing to overcome life's obstacles as a team. It does NOT doom you to dreary years occupied by increasingly drastic resuscitation measures and outright denial of your own needs, in order to keep the relationship nominally alive. When love becomes this difficult to maintain, it is already dead. Time for you to move on.
# 23 --
Sorry, but your advise is to add stress to stress! Moving away from your friends and your business at a time that you are breaking up a long term relationship with your business partner just doesn't make sense. Blowing up your life so that you can't be with either of the two men you are thinking of as possible partners since both are wrong for you? Can't you stand up for yourself, get a new therapist, insist on an open relationship if you want to stay involved with your current friend? Do you have to blow up your life to "save" you from a bad choice as if there are only two men in the universe? Does 23 really think that just running away to nothing is a sure line to happiness?
@21 - I'm with you. Some people are terrified of being single, like being in a relationship is the default. I don't know if they're wired that way or conditioned that way or what.
@7: "Not sure why Dan didn't address that"

He did in passing, by calling it a false dichotomy when asking to choose between only the two of them.
@12: "Why doesn't the LW talk honestly about the future with the ex ?

He's not a sex-bot that's guarenteed to be on board with the future she is dreaming of."

Because the ex doesn't want a future with her. She knows the answer thus she won't press it.
"Don't you just pick someone and love them?"

In a way, but you need to be mindful about whom you pick. Often, you're picking specific people because they tie into unhealthy relationship dynamics from the past that need to be broken, which requires a massive amount of introspection and therapy. But it can be done. Sooner is better than later. Dump the boyfriend, fuck the ex, and stay single while you take a long, earnest sift through your baggage.
I'm sorry, but whoever said that relationships are supposed to be hard? They lied. If your partner doesn't make your life easier than it would be if you were single, you're doing it wrong.
make it work till the kids graduate then hope one is not too old to find sex somewhere
@29: "I'm sorry, but whoever said that relationships are supposed to be hard? They lied."

Sometimes they are for some persons, and they take work? They shouldn't be a burden, of course.
Relationships are supposed to have ups and downs. Not just downs. If there are more downs than ups, then why are you staying in the relationship? If your job sucked, wouldn't you quit?
God bless you, my thoughts exactly. Aren't long relationships hard, though? Isn't that just a fact? Don't you just pick someone and love them? Or is that sad and cynical?

Many long relationships are difficult, but only becasue of that exact attitude, where people decide that having A Relationship is more important than having a happy relationship. It isn't "just a fact," it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. A sign of a great relationship is one where the effort needed to maintain the relationship is joyful and affirming, not something that feels like "work". Now, some people decide that they want something else more than a happy relationship - a procreative partner and co-parent, for example, or someone with whom to share household work and expenses - and that's their right, but I think people should make their choices intentionally and not by default compliance with some idea that being in a romantic relationship is a need on par with having a source of income (technically possible to survive for some limited period of time, but unsustainable long term).
Lindie @24, moving away wasn't my idea. LW sought Dan's advice because of a strong yearning to move cross-country to be near an ex-BF who clearly didn't want a real relationship. LW knew it was a reckless and irrational plan, but the urge remained. Working hard to stay true to the current BF who has been toxic and asexual for years, while having sizzling-hot occasional sex with the ex, despite his lack of desire for exclusivity or commitment - these frustrations seem just as stressful to me as moving to a place you've always wanted to be to start over. LW is feeling stuck, unhappy and sexually starved in the current relationship, and appears to be getting ready to fly the coop anyway. You make a good point about the messiness and stress of ending a love relationship with one's business partner, but it sounds like they are little more than affectionate friends and business partners at present, so maybe not so much in this case.

And no, of course I don't think that "running away to nothing" is a sure line to happiness. I think LW would be running away FROM nothing to something, at the very least creating the positive space for something better in the future. And there are no sure lines to happiness for any of us - but odds are that LW will find it somewhere other than in the arms of either of these two men.
No, relationships aren't supposed to be hard. That's a cultural meme that NEEDS TO DIE.
Don't you just pick someone and love them?


I mean this sounds like a terrible way to have a relationship. You should like the person your with. You should share interests and values. Picking someone at random and sticking with them till death sounds like a miserable way to live. All relationships take effort and have rough patches, but as Dan said the good should outweigh the bad.

Look it sucks that your BF is depressed but that's not your problem. He needs to deal with it and it sounds like he really hasn't been doing that. It's not your job to save him or heal him.

DTMFA. It'll be better for the both of you.
DTMFA not exactly right for this guy...maybe DTPS (Dump The Poor Schlemiel).
Donny @37: Or DTGYLBCLW (Dump the Guy You Love But Can't Live With)
@ 37+38

We need a version DTMFA that can be used when the person isn't a mother-fucker.

Dump the Decent but Mismatched person Already?
@39: Dump The Wrong Person For You Always?
I thought it was something like Dump The Perfectly Nice Person Already (DTPNPA). I'm sure this has been discussed before.

Found it: I Hate Screen Names proposed it and Philophile endorsed it.… And Alison Cummins has used it too.… And I like it. So, not quite the widespread acceptance I thought I remembered, but it is out there.
i lived this LW's conundrum for a 5 year marriage (7 total years...) minus the cheating or discussions of non-monogamy.

I opted to move on... but... i still miss her... and my mind plays tricks on me still..."if only i had..." etc.