My girlfriend has a lot of shame about physical intimacy. I think she enjoys it, but she feels guilty afterward that we’re not married, like she is betraying her very conservative upbringing. I love her and we have talked about getting married. She thinks that will make physical intimacy more enjoyable for her. But I’m not sure. The idea of spending my life with someone who is unhappy after every time we are intimate makes me feel hopeless. —Wondering About The Future
So, you “think she enjoys it.” Is there pressure — overt or subtle — from you? If the choice was hers alone, do you think your bedroom activity would be the same? Don’t put Marvin Gaye on again before figuring this out with complete honesty.
Even if it is her choice, caution is wise. A wedding band won’t make negative schemata about sex go away, even if they seem on the surface to be about the lack of said wedding band. The lifelong feelings she’s been carrying probably go much deeper. This need not be a deal-breaker, and maybe marriage will lessen the conflicts. But you must be prepared for them to linger, and she must be prepared to do some work if that happens — work there’s actually no reason to wait for, when she could use the help now.
Is she moving too fast?
Q. I am in my early 30s and have lived with the same roommate for eight years. We were classmates in graduate school and have not been romantic, but I consider her family (especially since I am an only child whose parents live 300 miles away). Now she is thinking of moving in with someone she’s been dating for four months. He’s pressuring her somewhat and she has expressed doubts but also excitement at the idea. I think it’s a terrible move but I’m also scared to lose her. I want her to do what’s best but don’t know how to be unbiased. —Sad
You can’t be completely unbiased; that’s the nature of the beast when someone else is making a decision that happens to significantly affect your daily life. But it’s important you don’t overcompensate here.
Yes, you have a vested interest in keeping her close. But she has expressed doubts, and a four-month relationship doesn’t exactly allow for tons of deliberation (with acknowledgment of my personal hypocrisy). The best you can do is be honest about it — your potential bias, your sadness about her leaving, your concerns about her doubts — but emphasize that acknowledging your feelings is not the same thing as urging her to take a certain path. That decision belongs to her only.
Tell her the most important thing to you is that she does what’s best for her — and that you’ll find a way to stay close no matter where she lives.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at email@example.com.
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