Ask PJ: Long distance with a ticking biological clock, an update, and a book recommendation
Welcome to another edition of "Ask PJ", where I answer your questions about love, sex, open relationships, drugs, politics, religion, and everything else. I'm here to help and I always respond, even to strange questions like "Why wasn't God arrested on terrorism charges after Hurricane Harvey?" If you've got a question you'd like to submit anonymously you can find a link, as well as the ~100 questions I've answered so far, at my website: www.peterneiger.com/ask-me-anything . Oh, and I always welcome other perspectives, if you think I'm wrong please let me know. Tips are always appreciated but I plan on keeping all my content free.
"I'm looking for advice because I've seen you give it for people in relationships. I'm not comfortable with letting anyone I personally know about the troubles I'm having for a few reasons, but mostly because I don't want them becoming all worried and bothering me by asking too many questions and nitpicking. I've been in an open relationship for two years now. It's also a long-distance one. Despite distance, we still have strong feelings for each other. However, I noticed lately that I've been fantasizing about dating other people, namely a guy I've had a crush on for almost five years. (I should add that actually dating this crush if I become single again is probably not a likelihood.) A big reason why I've been having these thoughts is because I'm unsure about the longevity of my current relationship. We both went into this knowing that I don't enter relationships all willy-nilly - I want them to last, and for me, that would eventually mean marriage. He's in a grad program, and won't graduate until 4+ years from now. When I bring up topics like marriage and moving into together eventually, he has an "I don't know" mentality about it all, including he doesn't want to get married until after he graduates, and he doesn't want me to live with him in his current location because he doesn't believe there's much for me there - and he's kinda right about the last past, although it's not a complete deterrence for me. One problem is that if we get married, we do know that we want kids. But my biological clock is ticking, by the time he graduates and we possibly get married, I'd be in the iffy zone. Also, and the greatest issue in all of this, I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going without knowing where it's headed. Better to get out soon then go more months/years without knowing? I think the problems are exacerbated because he is so busy with class and I have been so busy with work these past few months that we aren't able to talk and visit as often as we used to. But it's also given me some time to think about the relationship. I haven't been seeing anybody else since September."
I think you should start actively dating other people to find someone who is a better match for you long-term. You want children and you have a timeline and your current partner is unable or unwilling to fit into that timeline. That sucks, but its the truth. People can love each other and be emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually compatible, but if the timing doesn’t work out then the relationship is doomed. Unless, you would prefer to see where things go with this partner knowing that there is a chance that your biology will not allow you to have children once the timing works out.
To be honest, I don’t think he wants to marry you. Saying “I don’t want to marry until after graduation” is kicking the can down the road because he likes the status quo. There are middle grounds between a long-distance relationship with no guarantee of the future and marriage. There are things like living together, getting engaged, etc. that he should be open to doing to show that he is really committed to your relationship.
The “I don’t know” mentality means that he is just as close to breaking up with you as soon as he graduates as he is to marrying you. It may sound noble that he doesn’t want you in a town where he thinks there is nothing for you, but it is actually condescending and an excuse. He doesn’t want you there because he doesn’t want you there. I don’t know what his reason is… maybe he will feel trapped, maybe there is another partner that he feels a deeper connection with, maybe he is worried that he won’t be able to focus on grad school. Whatever the reason, he wants things to stay exactly as they are for the next 4+ years, but you don’t have that time.
So, go explore your crushes. Take advantage of being in an open relationship. Go on dates. Have one night stands (if you want). Be open to finding someone you connect with even more than you do him. I don’t think you need to break up with him if the long-distance thing works for you, but be open to other people who might be a better timing match for you. Hell, if you are into open relationships then your current partner can continue to be a secondary boyfriend or you can explore expanding your relationship while finding a partner to marry and reproduce with.
Don’t put your life, marriage, and having children on hold for him, he certainly isn’t willing to put his life on hold for you… he’s not even willing to have a real conversation where you make plans when he graduates or try living together in the short term. I think if you are open to it you will find an awesome partner who will want marriage, kids, and whatever else you want without pausing your life for 4+ years while betting on someone who responds with “I don’t know”.
"If you like updates, I had the porn conundrum. My SO and I had a lot of good, hard talks. We had some body image, confidence issues, some recent sex drive mismatches, and some miscommunications. I still feel as though porn is cheating adjacent, and he respects that. He suggested that we take pictures of me for him to use instead, and I agreed. And we can revisit if he is unhappy. You’re awesome, by the by."
I do like updates! I get them occasionally (usually in the form of a private Facebook message where someone says, “You know that problem with sex, kink, relationships, etc. that you answered last week? That was me”). Thank you for the update. I’m glad that you found a middle ground to try, that is a good idea and I hope it works out. I do recommend you continue to push the boundaries and reflect on why porn makes you feel so uncomfortable, I think it is a dangerous precedent for someone’s thoughts to impact you and for you to want to control what someone does with their mind and eyes and own hand (or toys or mattress or whatever). If it doesn’t harm you then you should strive to be okay with it. Keep on talking and hopefully your jealousy around porn is a symptom of something else and as you address body-image, confidence, sex drive issues the jealousy will reduce.
But, it is really awesome that you found an idea that you both agree to, I’m going to steal that idea if/when I get asked a similar question in the future. Happy orgasms for you both and I hope your relationship keeps growing.
"My husband often sends me emails with articles he finds interesting from his internet searches. After reading this one, I thought you may enjoy the article too. As you will notice from the URL, the article is a few years old. I had never heard of Edward Abbey before reading this article, but began doing more research. Based on my little knowledge so far, it seems you and he shared similar values. You're probably already familiar with him much more than I am. Nonetheless- wanted to share the article in case you hadn't seen it. Hope you are well. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/best-reads/2015/04/17/edward-abbey-last-act-defiance/25930091/"
Thanks for sending it my way! I actually have a book by Edward Abbey (Desert Solataire) but I haven’t read it yet. Well, I read the first chapter but then I decided to read something else. I do that a lot. Finishing a book is so bittersweet and it takes me a few days to decide what book to pick up next. I’ll flip through several, read a few chapters, and then just go with which one speaks to me. It is almost a spiritual experience… anyway, thanks again and I look forward to reading the article.
Oh, and I am well. I hope you are well too :)
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