In the Face of Temptation, Just Say No

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Hi Whit:

My boyfriend “Adam” and I have been in a relationship for almost a year. Both of us are in our mid-20s. We really have a lot of fun together, and I can see possibilities for a future together. It’s not like I’ve decided that he is “the one” and can’t wait to live happily ever after, but I think we both believe that our relationship is definitely headed in that direction.

So here is the issue. A few months before I met Adam, I dated a different guy, “Ben.” Our relationship lasted fewer than six months. It seemed like we fought all of the time and the relationship was rocky except for the sex.

We had the absolute best sex and we had it a lot. But it was the only time we didn’t argue. We broke up because we both knew the relationship wasn’t going to work since we realized that we couldn’t engage in that behavior every waking minute.

In the time after our break up, we would get together every so often, maybe once every month or two, for one reason only, which was always great. These encounters were mutual and both of us would initiate them at different times. I know I should quit seeing Ben, but I just can’t seem to stop. Can you help me be strong, and do the right thing?

Can’t Help Myself

Dear Can’t:

Forgive me for asking too personal a question, but how is the sex with your current boyfriend, Adam?  You don’t mention that aspect of your relationship with him, which makes me wonder. What is missing with Adam that still makes you crave Ben?

You say that you “have a lot of fun” with Adam. What does that mean exactly? I am confused since you seem to have a lot of fun with Ben too. So, I guess my question to you is this: What matters to you, especially with someone who has potential to be “the one”?

Conversely, you might also consider what for you is not having a lot of fun, given all the arguing you did with Ben.  What were the sources of your disagreements? Were they over the same issue, or did they vary? When you made up, did you discuss or examine the issue or just dismiss or ignore it?

Once you have asked and answered these questions, you might begin to see what about Adam makes you want to keep him in your corner (or not). At the same time, you should be able to understand what about Ben made him a sparring-partner for you. You get the fight imagery, I’m sure.

From knocking down to building up, let’s move from the boxing ring to the construction site. When I was a carpenter’s helper in the summer years ago, I often remember how my boss, that sage of the circular saw, told me that “spackle covers a multitude of sins.” In your case, sex is a kind of spackle in the way it covers a multitude of defects in your relationship with your ex-boyfriend.

To your credit, you discovered that not even “absolutely terrific” sex can keep a terminal relationship alive. But this one is still breathing and you need to put it out of its misery and kill it quickly.

But first you must recognize that you can’t have a future with anyone on whom you are cheating.  Visualize Adam doing what you are doing with his ex, and then imagine him as “the one” for you. It doesn’t work, does it?

The only way to “stop doing it” is to stop doing it; to be strong, you have to stop being weak.  Just tell Ben you’re not going to backslide anymore—and then don’t. You already know it’s the right thing, so do it.

That way you and Adam have a chance to live happily, even if it’s not ever after. You don’t know what’s going to happen with Adam, but at least you’ll know what’s not going to happen with Ben.



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