I have been seeing a man for over three years. Our relationship has always been filled with many ups and downs. Although we began in a normal relationship that included sex – he is unable to orgasm – won’t talk about it – I can’t even broach the subject – he made it seem that the problem was mine or me. I have strongly suggested we break off the relationship several times – I feel like his buddy or brother and I don’t want that. Unfortunately, he is like a bad penny and just keeps turning up. Every time I suggest we not see each other he becomes the most wonderful companion (minus sex of course). I truly believe he suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder. He fits all the symptoms to a T. Further, he is extremely moody and obsessive. I’m sure you are asking why I hang out with this guy. I ask myself the same question over and over, surely that puts me in a personality disorder category myself. Actually, I really love and enjoy him (much of the time). Although he has hurt me many times, he is so reminiscent of the parents I grew up with that I almost think it’s normal! I am a 52 year old woman, and therefore, probably think that I have to hang on to what I have – it’s hard to compete with all those 20 year olds who are looking for a father. He is 54. I would rather be able to help him. It really wouldn’t matter to me if I helped him so he could have a good relationship with someone else or with me. I have resigned myself to the fact that this is never going to work out.
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Staying in an unsatisfying relationship because you are afraid you will not find another is ultimately self-destructive. Although I know it’s hard to return to the dating scene after being in a relationship, not returning will leave you asking “what if?” and will probably make you even more dissatisfied with your current situation. If this is the only reason you are staying with him, I suggest you break it off soon, before you get too far entrenched in your life with him to leave. If, however, you think the good parts of your relationship have enough potential to justify a lot of work to save it, then give it a try. It all depends on what you want to do. If you do decide to try to repair your relationship, I would suggest starting by telling your partner both what you like and what you dislike about your relationship. Let him know that you want to work to make it better, but you cannot do this unless both of you are committed to improving what you have. I would suggest seeing a counselor to help open the lines of communication between you, since this is often a very difficult thing to do. Since he seems to be quite defensive about the topic of sex, you may want to wait before bringing that up, but when you do, remind him that a lot of men (and women) have trouble achieving orgasm. It could be related to a physical, emotional, or psychological issue, and in any case there is a good chance that a professional physician, counselor or psychologist could help him. Encourage him to seek help for what is obviously a disturbing problem for him. It sounds as if you care for this man, even though your relationship has had problems, but you need to decide how much of yourself you want to invest in a relationship and a man that may not work out. Take care of yourself, and try to do what will be best for you. Hope things work out, – Anne