29-year-old woman, heteroflexible, kinky, GGG, regular listener.

I'll just get straight to it. Three years ago my ex-boyfriend killed himself after I ended our three year relationship. He had made veiled threats while we were together about suicide—saying things like he couldn't make it without me, etc. His death has been very difficult for me and I've been in weekly therapy to grieve and work through my anger, guilt, and sadness. Ultimately, the experience has been transformative and it has forced me to grow as an individual. I now live more authentically, intentionally and have more purpose.

However, I've just started dating again and I have this horrible feeling whenever I feel the need to end a relationship or when I feel like my partner might be becoming too dependent on me emotionally. It makes me want to run for the hills. It's like I'm reliving it all over again. It's not that I think they will commit suicide. It's just that the thought of hurting someone again is too much to bear. Even if I have the slightest notion that my relationship won't work out, I immediately blockade their efforts to get closer to me.

Will this last forever? I want to protect myself from partners who might have this pattern of dependence, but also don't want to block a connection with someone who could end up being a fulfilling and healthy partner for me. I would really appreciate a response from you because I've grown to value your opinion in all matters, even those not regarding sex and kink!

Perplexed And In Need

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This line in your letter jumped out at me, PAIN:

It's just that the thought of hurting someone again is too much to bear.

Really? Just the thought of hurting someone is too much to bear?

Because if that's how you feel, PAIN, then you're disqualified from dating. You certainly can't enter into a relationship ever again—not even a casual one. No FWBs, no BFs, no SOs. Because there's always hurt, PAIN. To date is to open yourself up to hurt; you'll experience emotional pain, you'll inflict emotional pain. There's no way to have the intimacy and sexual connection you want, PAIN, without accepting the pain that comes with it. And I'm not just talking about the pain you'll experience and inflict in all the "failed" relationships you'll be in before you finally meet a "fulfilling and healthy" partner. I'm talking about the pain you'll experience and inflict before and after that fulfilling and healthy partner comes along. Because pain is present in all "successful" relationships too.

Anyway...

Support The Stranger

There are two things you have to accept as you jump back into the dating pool: 1. pain is a part of it (and by "it" I mean relationships of both the short-term and loving-and-lasting varieties) and 2. you are not to blame for your ex-boyfriend's suicide.

Since there's no way to say this without it sounding callous, PAIN, I'm just gonna say it: Your ex-boyfriend was either too damaged or too fragile or too depressed to withstand what would be a painful but endurable blow for most people: the hurt of being dumped. That wasn't something you could possibly know in advance, PAIN, as you're not omniscient. And even if you were—even if you could've seen it coming—we're not obligated to stay with someone for the rest of our lives to prevent them from harming themselves. That's not a relationship, PAIN, that's a hostage situation.

I'm sorry this happened to you, PAIN, but I honestly feel sorrier for your ex and for his parents and siblings.