Dating, relationships

Living Like You’re Single in a Long Distance Relationship

My partner and I first began our now 3 year relationship via long distance. I moved down to Atlanta from Houston to be with him full time after 1 year but we were sleeping with other people while still out of state. I’ve been here for the last 2 years and after the honeymoon phase has worn out I discovered my mood has sunken into depression and anxiety due to being away from my family and friends back in my hometown.

This is my first long term live-in relationship and first foray into living away from home altogether. I noticed that I had stepped out here and there with each trip out of town due to my feelings of unhappiness. We were now considering moving back to Houston but I recently slipped up with an ex a few months ago on a trip back to Houston that my hometown partner found out about via hacking my phone.

I’m confused if I am truly depressed about my current relationship being monogamous and feelings of being stifled domestically. Or unhappy with being away from my hometown. We recently started couple counseling and each started therapy for clarity in our emotions. Should I try to make this work or leave while the going is good?

-Needy Neurotic or Nympho

Dear Needy Neurotic or Nympho,

Thanks for writing to me. I’m just going to cut to the chase here because there are few points I want to make. It bears me repeating that all my advice is meant to help not hurt. With that said, if you say “ouch” while reading this, remember my intentions.

While I recognize that relationships differ in complexity and preferences, I’m not completely sold on the idea you and your boyfriend were in a real relationship your first year together. I support long distance relationships, and understand open relationships, but you two were in different states routinely sleeping with other people in the midst of your honeymoon phase. So I’m left to wonder, what did commitment to each other look like at that stage?

Based on your letter, it sounds like you two didn’t really have any restrictions when it came to sleeping with other people during that first year. I assume you two did speak on the regular and saw each other when you could, but visits weren’t an every weekend thing. Sorting this all out in my mind, it sounds like you two were single people who agreed to be each other’s main. He was the number one date on your roster, and vice versa.

Following that logic, when you two actually did move into together, you had a problem. You two moved into a home together under the impression that you would be in a monogamous relationship, but you were still in the mindset of being single because that’s what you had really been during that first year.

To be honest, you two would have benefited a great deal had you not moved in with each other right away. If you had moved to Atlanta into your own spot, you both would have gotten the opportunity to see what exclusively dating in the same city was like. You would have gotten to see if you could commit to that type of relationship, and commit to him, without a lease or mortgage clouding your judgement.

And I’m no therapist, but the fact you continue to step outside your relationship to satisfy your physical desires signals to me you don’t really care if the relationship ends. Since your boyfriend is hacking into your phone, he clearly doesn’t approve of you having sex with other people, yet you keep doing it. Heck, the fact you “slipped up” with your ex even makes it sound like your subconsciously sabotaging relationship on purpose. If my hunch is right, which I think it is, you’re sabotaging your relationship because you don’t want to be the one to end things. You’d rather he end it to say he broke up with you, and at least you tried.

Suggestions going forward.

  1. If you’re able, go home to Houston for a weekend to gather your thoughts. Don’t use the time to mess with other guys and turn-up, but rather think about the reasons why you want to stay with your boyfriend. What about him excites you still? What does he offer that you think no one ever could?

 

  1. Again, I’m no therapist, but if you two are having infidelity and trust issues right now, take the Houston move off of the table. Just because you change the venue, doesn’t mean the problems you have in your relationship won’t follow. You two should sort your stuff out first.

 

  1. Also, remember that I support long distance relationships and pass no judgment on open relationships. However, no matter how hard you try, you can’t dress up being “single with a steady companion” as relationship.

 

  1. Now I didn’t address your alias above, but if you think you have a sex addiction, that’s something your therapist would be able to diagnosis and work on with you. Should that be the case, it would be up to your boyfriend to decide whether he can stay.

 

  1. Oh, and please know I understand how it feels to get anxiety living away from home. Been there, done that. But when you make the right move away from home, usually anxiety will be replaced with comfort in due time. (Although for some people, living away from home may never feel right because home is just there preference. And that’s perfectly fine.)

As always nothing but love,

Tavion Scott

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