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Is he too much like my Ex?

Dear Panel,

...he's great in some things, not so great in others. Could I have possibly picked a different version of the SAME MAN, with a few minor improvements in this newer version? I've grown to care about Chuck immensely, and he's only slightly aware of my angst about him...

-- Living, Loving, but not sure I'm Learning

Female, age 31, USA

[read the entire question below]

Dear Panel,

My Ex Gave Me Zilch

My soon-to-be-ex-husband, Marcus, and I were together for about eight years, married for two. I should not have married him. I naively thought he would change after marriage. I feel I married for comfort, not for passion, but either way, Marcus wouldn't give me any romance. I gave and gave and gave, (love, encouragement, presents, money, surprise vacations, footrubs, etc.) and in those eight years, I got zilch; I got flowers ONCE. I made all the money, I encouraged him to go back to school, he wasn't interested and stuck with blue collar work and me pulling in most of the moolah.

The sex was one-sided, he just wasn't passionate about me and I now have to admit that I wasn't passionate about him, either. I really needed him to SEE me, to show me attention and love in a mature way, and he just couldn't do it. We were intellectually mismatched, I could go on and on about this doozy of a life mistake I made. By the time I left him, I was so starved for sex, affection, just decent conversation that it was crazy. I grew, he didn't.

I Had To Get a Restraining Order

The divorce process, at its peak, was a nightmare. Marcus went nuts, I had to get a restraining order, it was truly the most stressful, painful time in my life so far. I was in therapy, have only recently stopped going.

My New Guy Is Not Romantic

A few months after I separated, I met a man, Chuck, who is considerably younger than I at 23. He is intellectually and sexually my match, we have chemistry, – but believe it or not, he too is not the romantic sort, as I'm discovering.

In the beginning, we had that whole white-hot thing going on, you know, when you first meet someone – I just felt so ALIVE again. I leaned on him during the stressful and scary times, and he was solid, mature, and nonjudgmental, my rock.

Age Difference Is Sometimes a Problem

The age issue is sometimes a problem. I don't fit in at keggers and he's not familiar with the wine list. His friends are at the Warped tour, mine are at Chuck E Cheese with their kids. We are kind of insular, more than we would be if our ages were closer.

He's Like My Ex in a Few Ways

But now, I notice that in a few ways, he's like Marcus – damaged from a rough childhood, hard to expess his emotions, not very creative or thoughtful when it comes to romance. But he does try in his own Chuck-like way. This is weird, but sometimes he just doesn't GET me. I'm very goofy, very flamboyant, he's the opposite. He's quiet and calm, he's reflective. He thinks before he speaks, etc. I am a tactless big mouth at times, and at 31, I'm pretty comfortable with that. But he's always giving me this look (albeit loving) of "what a complete crazy freak this woman is." Sometimes I want a man who is just as goofy as I am.

He's financially got zero in the bank, of course – he's in school. I make three times as much money, and have my career firmly established. Don't get me wrong, he's great and considerate and kind – he spent all yesterday putting together some monster piece of furniture for me.

I Fear Hurting Chuck

I'm just so TORN sometimes, and wonder if I should've jumped into another relationship SO QUICKLY. I was emotionally separated from Marcus for a long time before I actually left. And I hurt Marcus so terribly when I left, that I fear leaving Chuck as well. I feel like I'm going to leave a wake of men behind who I've hurt.

Chuck doesn't want to live together, doesn't want to get married, and rightfully so; he's 23. And that's exactly what I want, too. I definitely want his companionship and we are exclusive; but no shacking up, no (gulp) marriage.

Did I Pick a Different Version of the Same Man?

But I'm just so unsure of my feelings for him. I feel like we are doomed – that this transitional relationship will not last, so why not just end it now? It's like, he's great in some things, not so great in others. Could I have possibly picked a different version of the SAME MAN, with a few minor improvements in this newer version? I've grown to care about Chuck immensely, and he's only slightly aware of my angst about him (believe me, he's had enough of my angst to last him a lifetime).

I'm growing so TIRED of relationships – all I can think, if Chuck and I break up, is: "I've got to go thru this whole thing AGAIN with someone NEW? And what if I choose wrong again?"

All My Girlfriends Have Fabulous Men

All my girlfriends are married (to perfectly fabulous men and they are all cooing like lovebirds, while I smile outside and grimace jealously inside) and now I feel like I'm in a time warp. I can't even find another female my age who can hang with me without asking me to to hold her baby.

I love Chuck, but lately what goes through my head is: "Who's MY soulmate????"

And if that's going through my head, then I can answer the question myself, I guess: "It's not Chuck."

But who knows? Maybe because I'm mental or something, I'm willing to throw this perfectly good man out the window.

I Fear Being Alone

I also fear being alone in general; I've ALWAYS had a man in my life.

And the few short times I didn't (in my early 20s), I ran willy nilly around like a hoochie, being drunk, promiscuous, and lonely simultaneously. I needed sex, kissing, someone to hold me. I just don't feel happy without love, and I know that's a crappy low self esteem statement, but there it is.

Should I chuck Chuck because I find too many differences/issues (money, age, poor communication skills on his end, less romance than I need, loathing of Rage Against the Machine) or keep Chuck for the good points (sex, kindness, he truly loves ME {never complains about my jerky behavior}, dependable, intelligent, helps put furniture together, permanent date for events)?

I Focus on Their Lousy Points

Is it ME? Is it HIM? I know no one is responsible for my happiness but me. Maybe I'm just not cut out for relationships. I always seem to be focusing on their lousy points. I know this was long and I've babbled and digressed, but does anyone on the panel have any words of wisdom? Many many thanks.

Just general comments/advice would be appreciated.

-- Living, Loving, but not sure I'm Learning

Female, age 31, USA


Stephanie, Vivi, and Luka answer this question.



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