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Monday, March 13, 2017

One Guy's First Relationship - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey! First of all, I'd like to start off by that I think you're an awesome guy with lots of good insights. I don't necessarily agree with everything you say, but for the most part I believe you have really good advice. Thanks for doing what you do!

So, a little bit of background on me and the girl I'm writing to ask about. I apologize in advance because this could be a pretty long letter.

Anyway, I'm currently a freshman at BYU. About a year ago, I was a member of a Facebook group that was basically just a page where youth from around the world could get to know each other and talk.  I thought it was a cool place to meet other LDS kids my age since there weren't a ton in my area. I was pretty active on the group, participating in conversations and becoming recognizable on the site. It was pretty fun.

One day, this girl from the group named (Withheld), messaged me. She said I had caught her attention with the things I would talk about, and she was interested in getting to know me better. I was honestly flattered, because I had never really gotten much attention from girls before and even though she didn't know me at all it felt nice. So, I started talking to her.

We exchanged phone numbers, and kept talking. We lived thousands of miles apart - but that didn't stop us. I thought she was awesome and she clearly liked me. One thing lead to another and soon we were Skyping, calling, and in a bona fide "virtual relationship." Since we were both going to be headed to BYU that summer, we were hopeful that something would work out in person when we finally met.

Except that I cut it off. After the excitement of being in a relationship - if you can call it that when you've never met - wore off, I realized that there was every possibility things wouldn't work out when we did meet, and that being a couple prior to that meeting would increase the pressure and probably make it terribly awkward.

So, I broke up with her. I told her I was still excited to meet her and that I would absolutely give her a chance in person. She was really upset, and for a while was really angry at me - we argued more than we had good talks. She told me I was being stupid and trying to follow silly "social norms" and that I should follow my heart. The ironic thing, of course, was that I WAS following my heart. Even though I liked her, I didn't feel that it was a good idea to be in a relationship before meeting. Which seems so obvious in hindsight that I don't know how I got so excited by it at the time.

Anyway, that's just the beginning.

Fast-forward to the end of August, where we both did show up at BYU and finally got to meet each other. At first, just as I had feared, things were really uncomfortable. But I guess we got used to it quickly and a couple hours later she was cuddling with me in her apartment watching YouTube videos. I remember thinking at the time that she was moving really, really fast...I wasn't necessarily ready for cuddling or anything yet. Like I said though, girls had never paid me any attention before, so it was a huge shock that she still liked me after meeting in person. I mean, it's nice to be touched. Well...Sometimes (more on that later).

Anyway, we warmed up to each other, and it got to the point where I was hanging at her apartment all the time, and we were pretty much constantly together.

Don't worry - I insisted on taking her on real "plan, pick up and pay" dates, too. :P I don't think I was a total loser.

Eventually, I shared my first kiss with her, and things escalated quickly from there. Soon we were making out - we never did anything that would require us to go to a bishop, but it may have gotten there if I hadn't done something about it. I don't regret the little kisses - My first kiss was really special. But I didn't feel very good about where were going with the more intense stuff. I hadn't wanted the label of "boyfriend/girlfriend" yet, but we were basically there already.

So, as I was reflecting more and more about why I was uncomfortable with the kissing, I realized that I just wasn't ready for it yet - for lots of reasons.

I'm not that overweight, but I am heavy enough to struggle with self-esteem and self-image problems, and being touched made me self-conscious and so uncomfortable...That's part of what I didn't like, even though kissing was really fun. I'll never be totally comfortable with someone else unless I'm comfortable with myself.

There's also the issue of my mission - Which of course isn't really an issue, but you know what I mean. I've always been of the opinion that waiting for a missionary is a bad idea. There's the issue of distraction - I want to be able to focus on my mission wholeheartedly, without having to constantly worry about whether a girl back home really will wait, or what she's doing, etc. There's also the fact that I don't want (NW) (and she has the hardest time understanding this) to go into cold storage while I'm gone.

She claims that if I really cared about her, I'd want to keep her for myself, but the truth is...I don't know how things are going to work out and I'm not comfortable making a commitment like that until I'm really confident.

People can change a lot in two years, especially when on a mission. If I don't come home a changed person, I don't think I will have truly fulfilled my calling. But, who knows for sure if that new person will still like (NW)? One of the worst things I can imagine happening would be if, after I had her wait for me for two years, I came home and decided it wasn't going to work with her. She would have wasted two years of her life waiting for me, when she could have met the man of her dreams (who, again, she claims is me, but I'm not so sure).

Being in a relationship and then breaking it right before my mission also seems silly - I don't think relationships should have expiration dates. Furthermore, there's the fact that I've never really dated before, and even though I think I do love her, there's a thousand amazing girls here that I want to go on dates with, and get to know, because I'll never be able to be confident in choosing someone to marry unless I've had the chance to see what kind of personality traits I compliment best. That's just my personality - I like to have all the facts before jumping into something.

So, one night, I told her all of this. She...Didn't take it well.

For the past few months, we've been arguing pretty much nonstop. A few times she's stopped talking to me altogether, but she always contacts me again, angry that I didn't try to contact her and prove that I actually care. I was just trying to give her space...I mean, what am I supposed to do when she says "I want to forget you."

This is all complicated by the fact that I really, really like her - Maybe even love her - and she thinks that's more than enough reason to be in a relationship. How do I argue with that?

Do I really love her if I still don't think now's the right time?

She says that if I really cared, I would want to do anything and everything I can to hold onto her, and that the fact that I want her to date while I'm gone proves I don't really care for her. That I want to date other girls and not worry about commitment, too, seems to tell her that I don't really care about her. But, she goes back and forth from being okay with being just friends to saying that she hates me and that I'm a coward who's afraid of commitment.

And I feel so bad for her...She's had a really hard past. Lot's of family tragedy.

They've either been divorced and cheated on, and she doesn't trust men at all. I feel awful because she thinks I'm abandoning her and in her mind I'm just confirming that all men are selfish and awful and reinforcing that hatred. She struggles with severe depression and other emotional issues, and I wish I could help her, but by trying to do what I feel is right I'm just making things worse.

And I feel REALLY bad because she accused me of using her when we were making out and stuff, and I guess she's kind of right. I truly do care about her, but that's only part of the reason we got involved with that. It was just so thrilling and exciting...I got carried away. I regret it now, but you can't take that back.

Another interesting thing...At the moment, she's saying that she knows I won't change my mind and doesn't care, because she still wants attention from me. She keeps begging me to cuddle with her and even make out with her, and I'm having a really hard time saying no. I feel like that should be reserved for a committed relationship, but she says she doesn't care and just feels starved for physical touch. It's hard because that was really fun, and when I have a pretty girl begging me to kiss her all the time...It's so, so hard to resist.

What makes it easier is the fact I mentioned earlier that sometimes I don't fully enjoy touching because I'm so insecure about my body, so maybe that's a good thing?

Anyway, the world is upside down because I'm the guy and normally I would be the one asking for physical things and here I am trying to say no. And, I'm not all that good at it. A couple times when she was crying, and I wanted to make her feel better, I kissed her.

Moments of weakness, I guess, but to her they just reinforce that what I'm doing by choosing not to be official with her is fighting my true feelings. Of course, my true feelings are conflicted, so in the end I guess she's partially right and we both feel worse. Should I just give in and give her what she needs?

I'm stuck between trying to do what's right and trying to be her friend and make her happy, but I think she's going to keep fighting me until I "give in to my real feelings" and let us be a couple. I'm not willing to do that yet, but I also don't want to lose her as a friend...I care about her. I've talked to my family some, and they think I'm being dumb by not just letting her go. But, I can't hurt her that way. The problem is, I'm hurting her by not committing to her, too.

What on earth am I supposed to do?

If you have any clarifying questions, just email me. Sorry for the long, reflective letter. I just feel lost. This drama and anger and arguing is too much for me...I just want to be happy. To enjoy college and dating and making friends while I can, when I don't have to worry about pressure to get married.

Maybe that does make me afraid of commitment. I'm just not ready for her. But I also don't want to lose her completely - I still consider her one of my best friends.

Thanks so much again for all that you do. You're awesome.


- Confused Preemie

Dear CP,

When I do post letters, and many don't get posted, it's typically a year or more after I get them.  I can't promise that yours never gets posted, but I can promise that if it ever does it will be so long from now and I'll edit it so much that no one will ever know that it's about you and (NW).

This is kind of a tough one.  I can see that you really like her, and I can understand why.  Not just because she's pretty and kissing is great and all, but it's nice to be needed and despite all of the crying and begging and manipulation, you seem to really like spending time with her.

But I can't get past what you keep saying about the timing being bad . . . and I totally agree.  (By the way, even Sister Jo doesn't agree with everything I write, so we're good, you and me.)

I believe that Satan can use Good Things for Bad.  You two being together may be a good thing, but putting the mission in jeopardy is bad.

And then there's the manipulation.

That bothers me a lot.

Are you using her because you like kissing?  Maybe.  But that seems to be mutual.

Is having a pretty girl say she likes you and can't live without you very flattering?


But (NW) is so emotionally needy that she . . . well, bro . . . she scares me.

And I think it's to the point where she's putting her needs ahead of yours.

Now, sure, in any good relationship we should be concerned with the needs of the other person.  But what seems to be happening here is that Both of you are putting her first.

Some of the things she says . . . some of the things she's doing . . . the crying, the guilt, the yelling . . . it's just not healthy.

Not to say that you're guilt free, but I'm not talking to her right now.  I'm talking to you.

And so I agree.

I think it needs to end.

And not Charley-Brown-wishy-washy-sort-of end like you've tried so far.

But END end.

As in "I really like you, but the timing is totally wrong.  This is very difficult for me, but I know it's the right thing, the grownup thing, to do.  We can't see each other anymore.  I need some space to figure out who I am.  You need to realize that you're a wonderful daughter of Heavenly Father and are awesome and valuable regardless of whether or not you're in a relationship.  I need to be preparing to go on a mission, and I can't do that if I'm in a relationship this serious.  And let's face it:  we can't be alone together without 'being together', and that's not good.  I still like you.  I'll always like you.  But we can't go on any more dates or be alone together until I come home from the mission.  If you care about me at all you'll understand."

And, as painful as this may be, brother, if she starts to turn on the Manipulation Machine, as I suspect she will (be it trying to kiss you, yelling at you, crying, or perhaps and very likely all of the above), you'll need to be strong and see that as a sign that you're absolutely right to be getting out of this thing right now.

Good Luck.

Be Strong.

Don't wait.

And let me know how it goes, would ya?

- Bro Jo


Carissa said...

Name accidentally not deleted in one of the paragraphs.

Bro Jo said...

Thank you!

- Bro Jo

J-Dawg Fluffy said...

Dude, run. The last thing you wanna do is get so involved with this girl you can't get away, which you're getting close to.