Search all jobs Is sex a good reason to stay together? Although I find my boyfriend irritating and have cheated on him several times, I still feel affection for him when we make love.
Should I stay with him? Thursday 19 June The Guardian I'm 20 and have been with my boyfriend, who is 21, for more than a year. However, for most of that time we have had little to talk about, few interests in common and I find him irritating. All this points to the obvious conclusion that I should finish the relationship, but when we have sex, I feel close to him again and the strong affection that this arouses makes me reluctant to leave.
He likes me very much and is expressively content to be with me. He is clever, supportive and a good person with decent prospects - so he's quite a catch in that respect - but our relationship is not quite right and hasn't been for a while. He is my first boyfriend and I had my first sexual experience with him. However, I have cheated on him several times, always after having had a drink. I like knowing that there is someone thinking about me, who will give me physical affection when I want it, but is this a good enough reason to stay with someone?
I did try to finish the relationship, but he didn't want us to split up, so we stayed together. I am still young, so part of me thinks that there is no harm in staying with him, but I'm worried that I'm missing out on the chance to find someone else, although I'm now extremely sceptical about ever finding "the one". I'm also terrified that I'll end up in an unhappy marriage. Don't make my mistake At the age of 18 I met my first boyfriend, and embarked on a serious, long-term relationship with him.
We stayed together for six years. I knew he wasn't right for me, although he was also kind, loving and had good job prospects.
However, I allowed myself to be influenced by my family and friends and their insistence that he "ticked all the right boxes". He made me feel loved and cared for, but I felt no passion for him.
We both settled for each other, because it was easier and less painful than the alternative. When I think back to when I was 20, what I wanted then bears no resemblance to the things I want now, only seven years later. Think about how much life experience you have ahead of you - you do not want to be in a relationship with this man, but have simply become dependent on him because he provides you with affection, which you are afraid you can't live without. I was terrified when I split up with my boyfriend and it took me a long time to cultivate an independent life of my own, but once you have done that, you will never go back to being dependent on a partner.
Find a job you love, make new friends, follow your passions and do the things that make you happy. S, via email The other side of the story I have been on the receiving end of someone who has felt the way you do. I met my now ex-girlfriend when I was 20 and we were together for two years. The relationship was rocky to say the least, but I fell deeply in love with her; although she rarely told me that she loved me, except during sex.
She found me irritating and, although we had much in common, sometimes it felt as if we were totally different people. Eventually, I had to choose whether to listen to my heart or my friends and family, who were concerned for me. I followed my heart, and subsequently lost my job and a heap of self-confidence, too.
When, inevitably, she dumped me, I felt that I'd lost everything and even became suicidal for a time. My story may be extreme, but it sounds as if you are using your boyfriend in a similar way, which is ultimately very selfish. I doubt that he knows how you feel about your relationship, and the longer you leave it, the harder it will be for the both of you when the relationship ends.
It is perfectly natural to be irritated by your partner in the early years of any relationship - it's part of growing accustomed to somebody else on an intimate level. I'm sure the relationship must have been fun in the beginning - what activities did you share back then, apart from sex? Talk to him about how you feel and, whatever you decide to do, at least be honest about it.
Name and address withheld Break up with him now This is madness. You are behaving dishonestly and just hanging on to this man for your own convenience, in the knowledge that it isn't going to last. Sooner or later you will meet someone else and when you do, the whole situation will be horribly hurtful and messy. If you break up with him now, you can stay friends and avoid his ever knowing that you cheated on him.
Perhaps you need a period of being single. Then you can have some fun and look to your friends and family if you find you need emotional support. The emotional connection you feel when you have sex is a pleasant thing, but it is meaningless for you at the moment - your response is not specific to this man and it can't sustain the relationship. Name and address withheld Stop living a lie Why on earth are you still with this poor bloke? Perhaps you have some vestige of affection left for him, but you are cheating on him and are certain you don't want to marry him.
Finish with him and allow him the chance to find someone who loves and values him. You will be free to pursue your love of sex with any number of men - one of whom is likely to be "the one", at some point in the future when you are willing to give more of yourself. Name and address withheld What the expert thinks You may not feel that you are interested in a long-term, exclusive commitment at the moment, although it sounds like that is what your boyfriend wants.
For his sake, therefore, it may be best to end this relationship. If he finds out you have been cheating on him, or even if he simply starts to realise that you are dissatisfied with him, you will only hurt him. Now let's think about what is best for you. You say you are confused because, although you feel you don't have much in common with your boyfriend, you still feel close to him when you have sex.
Your response to sex is normal and natural. Feelings of closeness and affection are all part of the complex hormonal reactions that occur when someone chooses a partner with whom they could potentially produce offspring. Such feelings are designed to keep you together, because it is part of our survival mechanism to want to protect our offspring.
These are lovely feelings, but they are about reproduction, not love. When you love someone, you will try hard to understand what is important to him and you will want to do what you can to make his life better, even when that means you must sometimes forgo pleasures yourself.
Does that sound like something you want to do within your current relationship? Do you ever find yourself thinking about what your boyfriend wants? Do you enjoy finding ways to make him happy? The fact that you have betrayed him several times, then simply excused yourself, suggests that your own pleasure is still more important to you than his feelings. You are also worried about whether you are missing out on the chance to find someone else, although at the same time you are sceptical about ever finding "the one".
Your scepticism is well-founded, because it is true that there is no "one" person out there waiting for you. Nevertheless, a "perfect match" is possible.
It only comes about, however, when two people choose to be together, and when each one is determined to treat the other as if they are indeed "the one". This is not an effortless way to live. Loving another person involves sensitivity to, and respect for, him all the time, and sacrifice on your part some of the time. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with the alternative you propose - to leave your boyfriend and seek out other relationships.
You would only be wrong if you were to continue deceiving him, or if you were to stay with him and resent it. You are luckier than most. You have a real choice in this situation.
Perhaps it would help you decide what to do if you try writing out what kind of partner you hope to find, and what qualities you want in a relationship. Then list your boyfriend's qualities, and the strengths and weaknesses of your current relationship.
Now compare your ideal with what is yours already. Hopefully, this will clarify whether you want to use your energy to turn your current relationship into "the one", or whether you prefer to find another more in line with what you want. Linda Blair Next week: How can I manage to be myself I am a student and am failing at university.
I am very behind with essays and preparation for exams. I know I would enjoy my academic work if I got down to it, but I feel so much pressure to do well that I never start any of it. My parents want me to get a good job that pays well and are pushing me to apply for internships and choose a career, but I don't know what to go for. I couldn't cope with an internship - I just want a simple job but they would never understand that.
They are expecting me, and my brother, to do what they did - get married at 30, have kids and then spend the rest of my life working and bringing up children.
From the age of eight, I knew I was a lesbian. This has played on my mind ever since. My parents would be devastated if they found out and worried about what other people think. They have specific ideas of how life should be lived, which I don't fit in with. I have always run from my gay feelings, but now I feel as if I don't know who I am any more.
My mother criticises me because I am overweight, dress casually and am not girly. I hoped I would make up for my faults by being amazing at something, but I am afraid of failing, so end up not trying. I used to think I wanted to be a writer, but it seems too late for that now. I dream of escaping to somewhere I can be myself. I find it hard to imagine having a normal life, either professionally or personally. Where do I go from here? You are invited to respond to this week's main problem.
If you would like fellow readers and Linda Blair to answer a dilemma of yours, send us an outline of the situation of around words. For advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.
All correspondence should reach us by Tuesday morning: