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Love Letters

Do I remain loyal or leave her behind?

Q. I’m 20 years old and have been dating my girlfriend for two years. We are in a same-sex relationship and I was her first and only woman. She was one of my first female experiences, but after dating for six months, we both went to college where I cheated on her several times with different girls. I broke her heart and we separated for a few months but got back together as soon as we saw each other again. Since getting back together our relationship has been incredibly strong and we’ve both been loyal.

We both suffer from mental disorders that can mesh in negative ways. She suffers from depression and an eating disorder, often feeling incredibly insecure. Sometimes she tells me I am the only person who makes her feel important and validated. I suffer from a form of bipolar disorder which leads me to externalize issues that can feed her insecurities.

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She is the love of my life. When I am with her it is the only time I feel true relief from my own demons.

We have been long distance for the greater part of our relationship and the only way we get through it is because we know we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We talk about our future together and that gives us hope to get through these difficult years. But still I have doubts.

Sometimes I feel like I’m giving something up. In my life at college, and by limiting myself so early to just one person. I have difficulty being close to people I am not sleeping with, and am afraid my experiences with the world and people will be squandered if I don’t have the opportunity to explore. Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to cheat again.

I can’t imagine my life without her and feel like my disorder is instigating destructive behaviors because of my instinct to escape from things that tie me to reality and stability.

I don’t know if this is all in my head, or if maybe I shouldn’t be with her, but the thought of losing her is too much for me to bear.

I don’t know if I should indulge just to see how I feel, or stay loyal and feel repressed.

A. I assume you’ve talked to a professional about all of this, yes? You must keep your doctors in the loop.

Also, you need to be single. You’re in a long-distance relationship but you want to cheat. That’s no good. More importantly, you both need to be able to exist as independent adults. These things that you’re saying — that you’re what she needs to feel good about herself and that she keeps your demons away — they’re cause for concern. Romantic partners support us, but they don’t define us or make it possible for us to live. This relationship has become too important (and too dramatic), and it just doesn’t make sense.

My advice is to talk to her about separating so that you can learn to live on your own. You don’t have to tell her that you want to sleep with other people. This is about learning to be happy no matter who’s standing next to you.

You’re 20. You’re an adult. I don’t want you both standing in each other’s way. That’s all you’re really doing right now. It’s time for independence.

Readers? Should they be together right now? Why does she want to cheat? Are they good together? Any reason to feel repressed at 20?

Readers Respond:

I’ve heard of these two things called gasoline and fire, and when you put them together, they make a loud noise, followed by some hot stuff, then destruction. It’s pretty mellow.

While I understand that you two are madly in love (ahem), I don’t think you’re in a very healthy relationship. You two are kind of like the cane and the crutch of each other, and that’s no way to live. If you have the urge to cheat, you’re not into the relationship enough. She’s your fallback plan because you know she’ll take you back, and her esteem is so low that she will take you back. So what say you stop taking advantage of her?

Also, you’re 20. You’re not an adult as Meredith says, but you’re a grown-up, so it’s time to make a grown-up decision and set you and your GF free of each other.

First, you’re 20. She is only the “love of your life” — until you meet the next love of your life. That’s just the way it goes. I’m currently on the third love of my life.

And it’s weird you think you can only be close to people you’re sleeping with. Get over that. It’s nice to have close friends — but not cool to sleep with them all.

I’m not going to comment on the mental health issues — that’s above me. But if you’re not happy in this (or any other) relationship, you’re allowed to leave. Just be honest, be nice and don’t cheat.

You need to learn how to have friends independent of sex. That is a very unhealthy and dangerous way to go through life. You need to change that first and foremost.

The third “love of your life” — pretty funny. That’s why people should avoid searching for “the one” or “my soulmate,” etc. It’s a fool’s errand because there is no such thing.

You shouldn’t be in a relationship if you want to cheat. And you shouldn’t cheat “to see how you feel.” What about how your GF will feel when she finds out? In your own words, you have some major issues, ones that don’t seem to be conducive to a long-distance relationship, and maybe not a committed relationship. Time to end this and work on you.

You are a hot mess. . . . I’m thinking you’ve got no business being in a relationship with anyone until you get your head on straight.

LW is hellbent on making this not her fault. She isn’t doing a thing — the “disorder” is making her do it. There are a lot of us out here with bipolar disorder, and we all have to take responsibility for our actions.

It’s too bad for the LW that the way the world works is that you can’t screw around every time you’re feeling lonely or bored, and still have your loyal, committed fallback. We all know the advice we’d give if the LW was a man: that he was a pig who needed to grow up.

Column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.
com
. She chats online on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
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