Out with the Old, In with the New
Q: I've been living with my girlfriend for more than five years. We've had some rocky times the past year, primarily due to personality conflicts and lack of communication. I've had a lot of issues that I've kept inside and not communicated over the years until recently. She used to be very easily upset and temperamental, but she's more reserved and patient now that I've let her know that her lack of patience and snappiness were hard to live with. I'm not sure if it's too late now.
Our sex life is null at the moment. For the past eight months this other woman has been pursuing me. I'm totally attracted to her and find her very exciting. I'm not sure if there is anything long term here. I'm at the point where I want to have sex with her and leave my girlfriend. We have tried to not contact each other until I figure out my relationship and we have done that a couple times but she comes back every time to check with me. Kind of putting stress on me, too, but I like that she is doing it. I don't understand my feelings. -- John, 33
Dr. Susan: Ha. I have no trouble understanding your feelings. You've been living with the same person for half a decade, have allowed negative feelings and resentments to build up to where your passion has dimmed. And meanwhile, you've become attracted to someone new. It's pretty certain that unless you're ready to commit completely to your current girlfriend, this new one is going to win the chance to be your lover. For a while. Affairs, or promised affairs, are so much more titillating and arousing than hanging in there with the one you promised to be faithful to. If you even promised that when you shacked up. You need to be honest with your girlfriend, and probably leave her, before you start another relationship. She'll be devastated, but she'll be much more hurt if you fool around behind her back. Make a list of what's good and bad about her to help you decide your future with her. We know what's good about the woman pursuing you: she's new. Period.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.