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The Italian Job

Joe Newton

I’m reading you from Italy, and I could use your advice. About four years ago, I started dating a girl who I’ve been living with for the past two months. Since I’ve known her, she has been suffering from periods of depression and anxiety, although I didn’t know it when we first started to date. She used to spend a lot of time in therapy and continues to take medication. It has been very tough for both of us, and I even ended up talking to a psychologist for a while.

I was immediately captivated by her sensitivity, her sweetness, and the way she sees things. In many ways, she completes me. But soon after the beginning stages of our relationship, our connection lost its passionate side almost entirely, mainly due to the medication she’s taking but also because of her anxieties related to the fear of pain in...

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...so because of her anxieties related to the fear of pain in her intimate areas. I’ve tried to accept this while encouraging her to see specialists who could alleviate her fears. I’ve also been encouraging her to resume her conversations with her psychologist, which she stopped about three months ago. What should I do? I don’t want to breakup with her. I care about her and believe that with time, things will get better, but right now there is a significant void in our relationship. Vexed Over Intimate Decline You’re not fucking, right? I don’t know what else, “our connection lost its passionate side,” could possibly mean, so I’m gonna go with “not fucking.” And it sounds like the fucking stopped — it sounds like the passion was lost — pretty early in the relationship (“soon after the beginning stages”), which means you’ve been in a sexless relationship for three years and change. Just in case you need to hear it from someone: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have sex with your romantic partner, VOID, particularly if the relationship was sexual at the start. And while I don’t think it’s fair to head for the exits at the first sign of a physical or emotional challenge — it’s certainly not loving — we aren’t obligated to stay in relationships that don’t meet our reasonable emotional and physical needs. (There’s also a huge difference between abandoning someone after decades together and ending a relationship relatively early in life that isn’t meeting your needs.) You said you don’t want to breakup, VOID, but at the very least you need to consider breaking up. Because not only are you growing increasingly unhappy in this relationship, VOID, it doesn’t sound like your girlfriend is very happy. You’ve tried to help, and it hasn’t worked — but, hey, maybe something will click after another year or four and your girlfriend will start seeing her psychologist again and the specialists she needs to see. (I would recommend a pelvic floor specialist.) But what if things don’t get better? What if this is it? Are you willing to stay in this relationship, as-is, for the rest of your life? Having a loving and supportive partner in our corner during a crisis can make all the difference. But sometimes having a partner who refuses to leave us because we’re depressed or unemployed or on fire — sometimes knowing our partner would never abandon us while we’re in bad shape — can perversely incentivize not seeking treatment or looking for work or dousing ourselves in gasoline. Which is why a person in your position, VOID, a person with your values, eventually has to ask himself, “Is staying helping my partner or hurting my partner? Am I standing by them or am I enabling them?” Some other questions you need to ask yourself at this point: “Am I happy?” “Am I being cared for?” “If nothing changes, can I live like this — can I live with these unfilled voids — for the next four decades?” Once you’ve answered those questions — and answered them honestly — you’ll know what you need to do. Leaving will be extremely hard, if that’s what you ultimately decide you need to do, but leaving someone doesn’t have to mean abandoning them. You can still be there for this amazing woman — not as a boyfriend, but as a close friend. Still supportive, still encouraging, and still amazed. I’m 31-year-old Italian girl. I’m in a relationship with a married man who has two children, both around the age of 10. He joined my sports league this winter. We had a long flirtship that became sexual in April, and we fell in love. The first months were awesome, and we had great sex imbued with both romance and roughness. As our relationship went on, he started saying things that seemed to show a desire to separate from his wife. (He says they don’t have sex.) He said things like, “I would love just doing laundry with you,” and, “I really would love to sleep with you every night.” At some point, things with his wife worsened. He shared thoughts about separation and divorce with me and with his parents. (His parents now know of my existence.) At some point, during a conflict with his wife, they finally used the word “separation.” He became sad and told me he couldn’t do it. He said his kids would suffer too much. From that moment, I could not bear this relationship anymore. I am too deeply in love, and my expectations could not revert to what they once were. I’m trying to break up with him, but it is hard. I talked with him about my feelings, and he feels guilty about telling me things that made me believe in a future with him. So now, even though he says he is in love with me, he has agreed to breakup, because he doesn’t want me to suffer. But I am sad. I don’t know what to do. I know it would be better for me to forget about him, but it is hard. Are there any solutions to overcoming this situation quickly? One of the problems is that we are on the same recreational sport team, which means we see each other twice a week. Breakup Attempt Somehow Isn’t Catching So, you wanna break up with him, he’s graciously agreed to break up with you, but you’re having a hard time sticking the dismount because — like Neil Sadeka discovered back in 1962 —breaking up is hard to do. It’s particularly hard to do when the sex is great, the connection is awesome, and circumstances keep throwing you together. But circumstances — at least the ones you mentioned — aren’t outside your control. If you can’t see him without feeling sad and/or wanting to fuck him and/or feeling sad right after you fuck him, BASIC, then you’ll have to stop seeing him. That means asking him to quit the team (you were there first) and, if he refuses, quitting the team yourself. If you’re not willing to do that — if you’re not willing to quit the team — then I can only conclude you don’t wanna stop fucking this guy and you aren’t going to stop fucking this guy. You have the decency to feel bad about continuing to fuck him… or to at least pretend to feel bad about continuing too fuck him… which speaks well of your character. P.S. If your lover is only staying in his marriage because the kids are young and divorce would upend their lives, your lover and his wife are likely to part ways — amicably — once their kids are grown. I realize a decade is a long time to wait, but mistresses who play the long game sometimes win the crown. Just ask her. I am a 29-year-old Italian man living in London. In April, I started dating a guy from here, one year older than me, who recently came out as gay after 13 years with a woman. I assumed from the beginning that it wasn’t going to work, as he understandably needed to explore his sexuality. However, we dated for a couple of months and had a very strong bond. We talked every day, we saw each other whenever we could, we spent whole weekends together. It didn’t feel like a casual relationship. Anyway, after a couple of months, I brought up the “boyfriends” topic and he was very clear that he didn’t want a “relationship” even though he was loving his time with me. So, I put up my defense shield and disappeared. That was a month ago, and we basically haven’t spoken since. However, a week ago, two of my friends told me that he hit on them. As in, there were two times when we were all hanging out together and he was very flirty with them. Even to the point that he apparently asked one of my friends for a blowjob. I know we weren’t in an exclusive relationship, but what the fuck? Hitting on my friends? Go and do it with whoever you want, bro, but my friends? I feel like I completely misunderstood everything, that he didn’t give a fuck about me, and that I am worthless. I’m in therapy and I know this is something I have to work on. But I just can’t get over it, I feel completely played and worthless. What do you think? Completely Insensitive And Outrageous Pull yourself together. Unlike your ex-whatever-he-was, CIAO, you didn’t come out yesterday. You’re a nearly 30-year old out gay man with a good group of friends around you — assuming none of your friends blew this guy while you were in the other room — and you’re a having a meltdown because things didn’t work out with someone you dated for two months. It sucks when someone you want doesn’t want you back, I realize (been there), and it sucks when someone turns out to be the kind of person who would hit on your friends. But it’s a very big jump from, “This guy didn’t care about me,” to, “I am utterly worthless.” Frankly, CIAO, that’s the kind of reaction I would expect from a guy who’d just come out, i.e., a guy with zero experience dating people he was actually attracted to, and not from someone who’d been out and dating for years. You can’t help but feel your feelings, CIAO, and I’m not trying to shame you. It’s good you’re seeing someone — it’s good you’re getting help — because if this is your reaction after a two-month relationship with a baby gay ended badly, having someone to talk you through it is a good idea. You should also talk with your therapist about how you ghosted this guy because he wasn’t ready to tell you precisely what you wanted to hear at the precise moment you wanted to hear it. Hitting on the friends of someone who has feelings for you is a shitty thing to do, CIAO, but disappearing on people because they’re not ready to commit — ready yet or ready ever — is also a pretty shitty thing to do. Maybe your therapist can help you see that. Zooming out for a second: It’s not unheard of for a gay man to introduce a new boyfriend to his friends — or a new casual fuck buddy to his friends — only to discover that his new boyfriend and/or fuck buddy has already slept with half of his friends. That’s not what happened in this case: this guy hasn’t been out long enough to have slept with half your friends. You were casual sex partners, at least so far as he was concerned, but casual isn’t a license to be inconsiderate. And it was incredibly inconsiderate of this guy to treat being introduced to your friends — usually a sign that a relationship is moving away from casual and towards something more serious — like a night at home scrolling through Grindr. Finally, knowing what you know about this guy now, CIAO, you wouldn’t want to be this guy’s boyfriend — not because you’re worthless, but because you value yourself too highly. Got a problem? Everyone does! Submit your written question for “Savage Love” now! Or…

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