You and I have “met” via the national alimony reform movement. I’ve recently divorced for the 3rd time and after doing some dating this spring, would like to get some feedback on my current situation. I’ve never faced anything like this before.
My girlfriend and I have been dating for about 8 weeks. We’re very happy together and are very compatible in many ways. We’ve both stated many times that we want to stay together, be exclusive and make this relationship grow and deepen. I am concerned about her past, however. We come from very different backgrounds.
My girlfriend Jenny was sexually abused by family members, including her dad, from a very young age. When her mother’s boyfriend made advances towards her and she told her mom, her mom kicked her out. She abused alcohol as a teenager and dropped out of high school. She was raped at the age of 18, became pregnant and gave birth to her first son.
She worked briefly in the sex industry and has experimented with lesbianism and group sex. I’ve only begun to hear all the stories. She told me last night, however, that she believes that I’m the only man who has ever truly loved her. At least in any normal way.
I think her past sexual abuse has made her “hyper-sexual.” Our sex life is absolutely over the top, which I love, but I worry about her ability to form a lasting, monogamous relationship with a man. She insists that I’m her knight in shining armor and she wants to only be with me and live happily ever after.
Should I run or should I stay and see what happens? My heart says stay but my brain isn’t so sure.
Tyler in Tennessee
Wow. I say this with nothing but affection and concern, my friend: I would strongly reconsider making long-term plans with Jenny. Let’s go through your letter point by point, shall we?
1. You are very recently divorced for the third time. Your rush into another serious relationship troubles me. Take some time to figure out who you are alone, how to be alone and what makes you happy alone before you commit yourself to another woman. Again.
2. You have been dating Jenny for less than two months and yet you refer to her as your “girlfriend” and you are already having conversations about “happily ever after” (no such thing, sorry) and “forever.” You don’t know this woman very well and these discussions are premature and symptomatic of your fear of being alone (see point #1).
3. To say you come from “different backgrounds” is the understatement of the century. I’m not saying people with vastly divergent histories can’t work together, but in this case I’m going to deem these disparities insurmountable.
4. And now, the meat of the issue: Jenny’s past. *Sigh*
There is nothing funny here. Child molestation, rape, addiction, teenage pregnancy, prostitution, and you say you are just beginning to hear all the stories. What’s next, she was the 20th hijacker? I mean seriously, she is either pulling the world’s most depressing scam on you or she gets first place prize for having one of the most fucked up lives I’ve ever heard of.
What I am about to say may sound cruel, but I fear if all of that is true, Jenny is the relationship equivalent of Humpty Dumpty: a very broken person searching for someone to put her back together. Remember the line about “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men?” You may have some wonderful qualities, but you will not be able to fix Jenny. Jenny needs a therapist specializing in traumatic sexual abuse and a burning desire to do the hard work to recover from her past, not a “knight in shining armor.”
And about that: don’t you know what happens to most knights, regardless of how shiny their armor might be?
A partner’s role in a relationship should never be one of “rescuer,” another way of saying “knight in shining armor.” Have you learned nothing from your tortured relationship with alimony? The last thing you need is to repeat your pattern of being the solid, responsible and dependable half of a couple. You need to find a woman who has the same qualities and who can take care of herself with or without you.
5. Whether or not Jenny is hyper-sexual due to abuse is outside my pay grade, although if you think that might be true, your participation is a little bit icky, don’t you think? If the over-the-top wild and wicked humpy time is a by-product of molestation, you are reaping a horrible benefit from a terrible act, not making love.
This is not a topic with which I am familiar, so I urge you and Jenny to visit this website Rape, Abuse and Incest Network and to find a counselor in your area who can help Jenny recover.
You mentioned to me in an email that your parents stayed together even though you thought they should have divorced. My armchair analysis, written from a chair with no arms, is that you keep trying to create a marriage that you think your parents should have had.
Based upon this situation and the other information you gave me about your personal history, I am hereby diagnosing* you with one hell of a “savior complex,” which is a need to save other people (duh). Folks with this affliction often seek out those who desperately need help and they often sublimate their own needs to provide such help in an effort to secure undying love and devotion.
That doesn’t usually work out. In fact, those who reap the benefits of a relationship with an SCD (savior complex dude) often take the SCD for granted and come to expect the help, rather than be appreciative for it, which can leave SCD feeling unappreciated and frustrated. Do you think this might apply to you and some of your past relationships?
I am not a heartless person and I hope very much that Jenny gets the help she needs, but I think you need to put major brakes on this relationship, and now. You need to focus on understanding yourself and why at your age you already have three divorces behind you and you are considering long-term monogamy with a troubled woman so soon after meeting her.
Knowing people as I do, I suspect you will not take my advice because you are clearly drawn to this woman and you told me you are both expressing love for one another. Please protect your heart and your health, both physical and mental, if you continue this relationship.
*I am not a doctor and therefore not capable of diagnosing you with a savior complex beyond all certainty. Please seek professional advice before purchasing your crucifix and attempting to whistle through the hole in your hand.