Sex Diaries: Admitting That It’s Time to Break Up With My Boyfriendby Virginia Plain on June 13, 2012
Editor’s note: Virginia Plain is the pseudonym of a twenty-something woman living in New York grappling with a less than ideal sex life. Read her previous posts here, and check back next week for more.
So I finally (finally) worked up the courage to talk about our sex life — and really the relationship as a whole — with my boyfriend (who we’re calling “Real Estate” in this column).
Wait, no. That’s giving myself too much credit. I sort of launched into it without thinking one night when we were cooking. And it did not go well. Yes, I had been thinking about it, obsessing really, but I was still so worried and hesitant. I knew what I wanted and needed to say and how to even say it. But it was so easy to keep putting it off.
Until one night when I was home by myself watching Teeth (you know, the beloved vagina dentata movie), of all things. With my roommate out for the night, I was happy to have the place to myself and felt free to indulge in Indian food, scary films, and magazines. I was completely content, vegging away until I got a text from Rock God. We’ve been texting sporadically, but this time things were different.
He mentioned again how pretty I was but also how he’d want to go on an adventure with me (something Real Estate has zero interest in), and how David Bowie (my favorite) could be our “alone time” music. Essentially it was harmless, but it plagued me because I enjoyed the attention too much. I was grateful he lived on the complete opposite side of the country because I could see for the first time how tempting cheating could be.
As someone who has been cheated on, I always thought it to be the MOST REPREHENSIBLE THING IN THE WORLD. Until it suddenly looked like an option. Maybe not a good one, but I could see myself doing it, exercising my sexual demons to get back at Real Estate for hurting me so much even though I knew he never did it on purpose. How could I even think this way? I’m not a malicious person and the fact that I felt sort of alright with something so vindictive upset me. This isn’t who I am, and if my relationship is changing me for the negative it has to stop. Now.
I stewed over the text exchange for a couple of days until I saw Real Estate again. While we were cooking, I kept snapping at him about ridiculous things like how long you should cook the rice until finally he asked what was wrong. I evaded him determined not to make this a bigger deal than it was and determined not to bring up Rock God. While dinner was simmering, I finally let loose.
This wasn’t the concerned and emotional but calm conversation I had artfully composed in my head. It was again a torrent of sadness and tears, again me desperately telling him how I felt so unloved and so unwanted and why wouldn’t he just go see a doctor already? While I balled in a puddle of mascara and despair, he sat stoic. And repeated almost exactly the same words he did the first time we had this conversation. It was like listening to a tape recorder or watching an old film clip on repeat. He apologized for his lack of sex drive and said he’d go to the doctor.
I was shocked and shaken. When I returned from getting a crumple of toilet paper in the bathroom to dry my eyes, he was crying — which I’ve only ever seen him do once or twice. Then something unexpected happened.
To the anonymous reader who mentioned last week that the patterns Real Estate was displaying resembled depression: you were dead right. I’d never really thought that was a possibility, but suddenly Real Estate was telling me how he has crippling social anxiety and how he only feels comfortable around groups of people if he smokes pot beforehand. I always thought he enjoyed it, but thinking back, I can see now that everything from Halloween parties to trips to the movie theater began with a blunt. How could he not talk to me about this? Why didn’t I see what was going on?
Then came the real kicker. He said, “I feel like my life is getting worse.”
And then I shut down. Completely. As emotional as I was even a few minutes before, now I was cold. I felt nothing. Real Estate is in something much deeper than I could ever help him out of. And frankly, I don’t want to be part of a life that’s getting worse because that must mean my life isn’t getting any better.
The next morning, he rolled over, rubbing my back, trying to initiate sex the exact same way he always does. I turned him down; something I’ve never done. Unless he learned some sort of wild magic tricks in the seven hours we were sleeping, I wasn’t interested.
The last time we had sex, about a week before this sad display, it was so terrible and short I felt physically repulsed with him and myself afterwards. Now this. I can’t have sex with him again. I physically cannot do it. I would rather suffer a wasteland of enforced abstinence than spend another night next to someone who feels like a shell of their former self.
So I’m ready — it’s time to break up with him. How? I don’t know. I’ve been powwowing with friends and family who have been nothing but supportive, but that doesn’t really make it any easier. The only other break up I’ve been through was shockingly painful and lasted for months; I would never do that to Real Estate. As much as I don’t or can’t love him now, he will always have some piece of my heart and I don’t want to hurt him.
The worst thing is, I’m pretty certain he doesn’t see it coming.