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Wanting to move on from a long term relationship but unable to
hi there

Long time lurker here and first post.

I am 44 and in a 18-year relationship with my partner, who is 30 years older. When we both met, there was an immediate attraction and after a brief courtship, we became a couple. We have stayed together since. The first half of the relationship was satisfying in most aspects. The second half (to date) - not so great. More because of my partner's ill health. Also since the halfway point, our sexual relationship has also suffered. It has been 5 years since we last had one. These days, he spends 18 hours in bed...leaving me to undertake the running of the household. Frankly, it is starting to exhaust me - both physically and emotionally.

Recently, I met a guy who is about my age. This was not the first time I met other guys for fun but he is different. We clicked instantly and for the first time in a very long time, I feel alive. It may sound a bit cliche-y but these days, I smile a lot more and I feel happier. I like him way too much, and likewise, he has expressed similar feelings for me. When I first met him, I did not expect the encounter would progress to the stage that I find myself in currently and to that effect, I feel I have the responsibility to tell this guy about my situation. I have no doubt that he would simply walk away from me after he is told.

In a sense, the dilemma I face is not so much about this new guy and the relationship/feelings that I have developed for him. As much as I like him, and want to be with him, I am fully aware that it would never work, in my current situation. This brings me to my problem.

My partner has been a very good to me. Despite his problems, he has never been abusive - physically or emotionally. For that, I am grateful to him. It also made me realised that I could not possibly walk away from him at this time when he needs me the most. Yet, at the same time, he no longer fulfils my emotional and physical needs, and likewise, me for him. In that regards, I feel very lonely in this relationship. I suspect he feels the same but he has been too preoccupied with his health. The feelings that I have for the guy I met has put me in a difficult situation of having to re-assess my current relationship and to think of my own future. It sounds totally selfish on my part to do so, but this new guy has somehow shifted the equilibrium. I want to move on - not necessarily with this guy - and yet, I feel obliged to remain in this relationship and see it through.

What should I do?

Hi, Mikeoz. Welcome to GS.

Quote:Friendly reminder: some of your posts will be moderated if you have less than 50 posts altogether. You might wanna head to the "word game" thread to get your 50-post benchmark.

Does your partner know that you're meeting other guys for fun? Things get complicated if you're cheating on him. From what you said, you seem to claim the responsibility of taking care of your ill partner since you have been together for almost two decades. You do so since you, and I quote, "feel obliged to remain in this relationship and see it through" while "he no longer fulfills [your] emotional and physical needs". I doubt whether this still counts as "relationship" as there's no affections, no royalty, and no faithfulness.

In my humble opinion, this can be boiled down to the conflict between morality and humanity. On the one hand, you find yourself guilty of the possibility that you're about to abandon your partner, especially when he "has been a very good to me [sic.]”. On the other hand, you, as a man in his forties, need regular sex just like everyone else.

In terms of morality, there's no true account of what is right or wrong. Some may argue that our moral judgments are the sorts of things that can be true or false while others contend our moral judgments are only true or false relative to something that can vary from person to person, culture to culture. I find it hard to catch your idea of morality, for you "met other guys for fun" (which is morally condemned provided that we all agree that love affair is dubious) but at the same time "could not walk away from [your partner] at this time when he needs [you] the most" (which is, contrary to your disloyalty, morally praiseworthy). I think that may be the "dilemma".

As to humanity, I am particularly talking about Xunzi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, who believes that humanity’s inborn tendencies are evil and that ethical norms have been invented to rectify people. You have every reason to have fun with other guys since you need to satiate your emotional and sexual desire.
I think such conflict lies in the core of your frustration as you have been thinking about “moving on from [this] long term relationship” but unable to do so out of moral concern.

In that case, it is really helpful if you can clarify to yourself these questions below:
1. What do you think of morality?
2. What kind of feelings do you have for your partner now? Is it just out of obligation or love?
3. What is your idea of the contradiction (at least to me) that you cheat on him while taking care of him as his monogamous partner?
4. Which one matters more, morality or humanity?

Most importantly, have you ever talked to your partner about how you feel right now?
By the way, is is true that you were dating your partner while he was 12? I mean... you said you had a 18-year relationship with him (30-year-old). Mathematically, he must be 12. Wow...

His partner is 30 years older, not the other way around... LOL

A lot of people remain in relationships because they feel obligated to, even when the relationship isn't fulfilling anyone's needs. I divorced my wife of 21 years when I no longer felt the attraction or affection for her I did at the start, and realized that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life with her like that. Probably should have done that several years sooner.

This is definitely something you need to discuss with your partner.

You say you're in a monogamous relationship, but admit to being with other guys, so I'm not sure where to go with this.

After 18 years together, how is it possible that you seem to be unable to sit down with your partner and talk frankly about the relationship? I think you should stop assuming that you know what his needs are, what his reactions will be, how he feels and just TALK to the man. I doubt that he's unaware of your feelings, or your infidelity. It would be kinder in the long run to get it all out there and make a decision together.

I agree that people should leave a relationship when there is no love and attraction between them, but your situation is different.

What do you think leaving your partner who is old and sick but has treated you so well? He did nothing wrong. You said it sounds selfish. I think so too. It may also pose a risk that you suffer from a feeling of guilt for a long time.

You have already cheated. Do your partner know about that? I think you should be honest with him. He may probably want you to move on because you're still young.

Health issues that change a relationship can and do happen in long term relationships, even more so when you have such a large age span as yours does. This is when commitment to the relationship comes to the front. If the shoe had been on the other foot, what would his response to you have been and what would you have expected of him?
You said the new guy would leave you if he knew of your current relationship. Does that mean you would leave your partner and never tell the new guy he existed? If you tell him you are leaving your partner for him, would he still dump you?
Don't you suspect your partner already knows you are seeing other guys after 5 years without sex?

I know it's a lot of questions but it might help to face them.

Mikeoz Wrote:...What should I do?
It is so difficult to be sitting here at my computer reading this, wondering what I can say that will TRULY help. This is a big moment, a moment that may very well affect the rest of your life. HOW you deal with it is going to be very important. And, not actually knowing you, your partner, your new love interest... it is virtually impossible to guide you in a truly practical way.

THAT SAID... I think you need to think of it this way: "You need to re-define your relationship with your partner." Apparently, you have some sort of 'open' relationship agreement. You didn't say that but it sounds so. But, also apparently, falling in love with and wanting to build a more committed relationship with another man wasn't a part of whatever 'agreement' you had (formal or otherwise).

Well, now is the time to get that cleared up. You have spoken about your partner in terms of feeling "grateful" to him for many things. But, do you love him? You don't say. I'm going to assume that you DO or have at some point in the past, which is why you've stayed together as long as you have. You feel "obligated" to continue the relationship. Very well, but must it be continued as it is currently defined? Is it possible to "redefine" the relationship in such a way that you can continue to be a significant part of each other's life but NOT exclusive partners?

Then, of course, there is your current love interest. From what you say, you haven't told him yet about your current situation. Well... obviously you're going to have to do that. Sooner or later, if there is even the remotest possibility of a future between the two of you, you're going to have to fess-up. Yes, it will be taking a risk, but what other option is there, really? None that I can see.

But (don't know) but it may help to talk with your partner first. Tell him what you're struggling with. That, on one hand, you don't want abandon him but, on the other, you're feeling a connection with another man and want to explore that further.

My question is, does this have to be an 'either or' choice? You seem to indicate it has to be. I wonder... It really depends on how well people know what they need, communicate what they need, and listen to the needs expressed by others. Negotiating... finding ways to make it work. If all three of you WANT to make it work, it can work. But it would take all three wanting it.

Going back to your love interest, if I were him? I'd feel compassion for you both. I'd feel admiration that you have had such a long relationship that has obviously endured good and bad times. I'd respect that relationship and be willing to see how it might be possible to create a new arrangement, one in which everyone's needs got met.

I actually know of a man about your age who has been in precisely this kind of situation. His first lover was a much older man. As he aged, their relationship suffered sexually and in other ways. He found himself connecting with another man and, although it took effort, they eventually worked out a way that cared for everyone's needs. Just saying, I know such things *are* possible, at least with some people.

Thanks guys for all your advices especially to MikeW. Your advice makes a lot of sense to me and has given me some hope that a third resolution as suggested by you maybe a possible outcome. You asked if I still love my partner. The short answer is yes, I still do. I still care for him and want to continue doing so. Do I still love him in a romantic sense? Perhaps not. Not in the last couple of years. Being a carer is much tougher than I thought it would be. Even though I was prepared to be one, I wasn't expecting that it would change the dynamic of relationship so drastically. Similarly, when I was a lot younger, I wouldn't even entertained the idea of not being in a monogamy relationship. But reality is not so perfect (nor kind) and I found myself having to compromise on this ideal. My partner consented (albeit reluctantly) to me meeting other people but since then, we have never discussed about it. I wish I could remain strong and be loyal to my partner but I am not as tough as I thought I was. MikeW, you are right to say that I need to redefine my relationship with my partner. This I will do and will be something of a priority if I need to start anew. Obviously, I will have to come out clean to the new guy too. But whatever happens with this new guy, it matters much less than me sorting out my current arrangement with my partner.

Mikeoz Wrote:Thanks guys for all your advices especially to MikeW....
Don't be a stranger here. Let us know how things are working out. If we can be of further assistance, let us know.

I really can't add much Mikeoz. But just to say good luck with this difficult situation. And it may be that you still have a relationship with your partner, whatever form that may take. I can only imagine how difficult it is to go from a loving, romantic, sexual relationship to being a carer. I hope the outcome is as smooth as possible for you guys.

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