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Thread: Four-year itch

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    Four-year itch

    Been in relationship for four years with the same guy. We have lived together the majority of the relationship other than half the summers apart due to working away. We've done a lot of travelling internationally and shared some incredible experiences/locations together which has been great. We've also had our typical relationship conflicts.

    I was away last summer and got onto a gay networking app which eventually lead to me cheating on my partner. The truth came out about a month later so we started seeing a couple's counsellor and attending individual therapy to identify problems and root issues. I was hesitant to continue the relationship together (this was not to go be with the other guy) as I felt we'd been drifting apart a while and I wanted to focus finally on what I wanted. We chalked the situation up to poor communication, not checking in with each other to see how we were doing individually and as a couple, and not realizing the extent of our own behaviours/actions. I have gone to a number of individual therapy sessions to work on the issues that have been identified and we have continued periodic couple's sessions.

    At Christmas we were apart two weeks as we spent time with our individual families. During this time I enjoyed being apart. I returned for Christmas and we've spent time together ever since until recently when he went away for two weeks for work. Again, I have enjoyed the time apart and being alone.

    Our sex life is basically non-existent. I've lost a sexual connection with him which makes me hesitant to carry on this relationship. I've been told that this is typical in relationships; the lust doesn't always last forever. I feel we're at a crossroad of going it together or separating. He wants to be with me and is willing to invest everything to make this work. I agreed to working on me and us. It's been three months and I ask myself how long it's supposed to take--when will I feel the lust/love come back? When will I want to jump his bones after being apart for a couple weeks? When does enough time go by that it's time to end things or do I just deal with this and stick it out?

    This is the longest relationship I've ever been in and regardless of the length it's always hard to end a relationship. I've gone to leave twice but have felt crushed when it comes time to leave. I told him I don't want to end the relationship in a complete emotional puddle. I love this guy for who he is and who he has become, I love that he is willing to be there as a supporter and help me/us get where I/we've identified to go. I appreciate the experiences we've created and shared together and do have some regret about choices we made in the past that have cost me financially and him emotionally. I value that this is the first relationship I've had where a boyfriend has met all of my family and has been a part of it and vice-versa. I am cautious that my flame of love and attraction of "us" has gone out.

    I ask myself if I want to be single. Part of me wants to be. This is not so that I can date other guys or go through another hook-up phase. It's so that I can recreate myself to be who I realize I now want to be without any pressure, guilt, expectations that I feel from a partner. Call me selfish? Call me irresponsible? Someone call me something so that I can realize what I am saying! When is it okay to end a relationship? Is it okay to end one even when things are good? Sometimes I wonder if I'm staying in the relationship because it's easier than dealing with the emotional trauma if it does happen. Clearly I care for him and feel pained when he is upset at my mentions of relationship uncertainty - does this justify staying together?

    Your inputs and advice are welcome.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    I don't think that the "lust" will return. If that is what defines the relationship for you and the question of whether you should stay or go...I think you should probably go....

    Relationships are a journey though and it would be wise to consider that this lack of lust might happen again and again and again.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    Relationships can be work, but it really sounds like you need some "you" time. What does your therapist say about your situation?

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    Re: Four-year itch

    Look, if any part of you want to be single, I'd say go for it.

    I'm sure that this situation is the result of mistakes on both of your parts, but if either one of you must do all the heavy lifting to make this work, it's not worth it.

    To me this sounds like a plant that is dried dead. Better plant another seed.

    Sorry if that was harsh.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    Being in a relationship is hard work, or you or your partner are doing something wrong.
    Everyone needs "me" time, you mention your love for him, but say the "lust" has gone, am happy to hear that you both sought out counseling. This is not a quick "fix", therapy of any kind takes time.
    So you still have a very strong emotional link, but you are finding him to be less attractive physically?
    Or do you think this may be a case of wander-lust, not only in a sexual way, but also in a social context?

    Communication and honesty on both your parts, will more than likely be the saving grace of the relationship, or it may signal a new start for you both.
    Whichever you decide, i wish you luck.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    If the investment that you had made were a shorter time and your lives/families were less intertwined, this would be easier. But you've got four years invested and you are at a place where at this time, you're not getting what you want out of the relationship.

    The one thing that you didn't mention was whether the issue that you posted about has been discussed in couple's counseling. If you're not happy with your sex life and you are enjoying the time apart, that sounds like something that should be discussed in counseling.
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    Re: Four-year itch

    Are you sure you are being honest with yourself about not wanting to be single so that you can date and hookup?
    Everyone wants to be heard. No one wants to listen.

  8. #8

    Re: Four-year itch

    It seems like you already have your answer. And if you know it and it's felt this way for months, maybe a trial seperation at the very least would be good.

    But it sounds like the relationship is already over for you and you just don't know how to end it. If this is true, better to do it now rather than drag it on. It also depends on how old you are.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    Thanks for the input so far. To answer some of the questions:

    I'm 33, he's 29.

    I've thought about this lust situation and know that if I end this and get into another relationship right away (which is not what I want to do) the same will happen again unless I do some work on myself.

    As for "me" time, the couple's and individual therapists (two separate people) have both challenged me when I've said I want to work on me alone and they say that working on me and the relationship together can be done. I understand this but it's not my main focus. I want me. Together, we made choices in this relationship that we now realize today, through therapy, what our choices were saying. Nothing was extremely detrimental and definitely not a matter of safety but I suppose I'm disappointed in myself and my partner for not understanding our own idiosyncrasies and how much they impacted ourselves and our relationship. Today we take responsibility for the past decisions (if we only knew then what we know now...) and are accountable for our actions particularly when we weren't aware of our words or actions in the past.

    Sixthson, part of me is curious about future dating and hooking up. I know that this isn't possible until the relationship is ended and I don't think it's a good idea until I've got myself figured out. Much of this relationship was making decisions on what my partner wanted. I know that if that doesn't change then the same patterns will occur in the next relationship and the next...

    Ending a relationship isn't easy: one year, four years, or even six months. Break ups happen for different reasons. I'm conflicted with knowing if it's the "right" decision to break up. I don't feel the same physical/sexual attraction towards him which I realize will fluctuate no matter who I am in a relationship with and for how long. But a wandering eye doesn't make me or him feel any better. Maybe I just don't know what this stage in the relationship is and given that we've gone through our past with a fine-tooth comb I'm hesitant about it. I know that I am not currently giving him everything that he wants/needs/deserves in a relationship and I think that is unfair to him. We are two people working on ourselves to become better people, he with the goal that this will only make us stronger. I am focusing more on me.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    Thanks for the extra information, it seems that even though you both have tryed to salvage your relationship, you are both just not on the same page, anymore.
    Ending some relationships can be very easy, those are the ones where there was really no strong "emotional" connection. Yours is very
    different, as you mentioned that at one time there was "love" and "physical" attraction.
    If your main goal is focusing on yourself, and his is focusing on you both, then i think you know what the likely outcome will be.
    No matter what i wish you both well.

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    Re: Four-year itch

    What are your goals in therapy? It shouldn't be open ended. Have your relationship problems been identified? You acknowledge that he's not getting everything he deserves? Why not and are you doing anything about it? Are either of you suffering from depression? How was the sex when you met and what has changed and when? Are you doing anything different regarding sex since you've begun therapy?

    Couples stay together for all sorts of reasons and break up for all sorts of reasons. Dissatisfaction can be coming from you, him or the relationship. Therapy ought to help you sort that out.
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."--Dr. Seuss

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    Re: Four-year itch

    There is such a thing called 'Too much time together'
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    Re: Four-year itch

    Quote Originally Posted by Seasoned View Post
    What are your goals in therapy? It shouldn't be open ended. Have your relationship problems been identified? You acknowledge that he's not getting everything he deserves? Why not and are you doing anything about it? Are either of you suffering from depression? How was the sex when you met and what has changed and when? Are you doing anything different regarding sex since you've begun therapy?

    Couples stay together for all sorts of reasons and break up for all sorts of reasons. Dissatisfaction can be coming from you, him or the relationship. Therapy ought to help you sort that out.
    Our initial visit to couple's counselling was because I cheated on him. He wanted to get the intimacy portion back. This was the starting point for so much of the positive work we have gone through over the past 4 months and it revealed some problems and issues that we have been working on, mostly individually. For me, my integrity and security was based on a foundation of financial security. For him it was emotional. What happened in our relationship was that I financed a lot of the living expenses and travelling we did which, today, I view as a sacrifice that has not gotten me ahead of the game compared to four years ago. For him, he's paid emotionally in the way that I've been passive (which was clearly identified through therapy) and my cheating which was a symptom of other areas of unhappiness.

    When I say he's not getting what he deserves I mean that I am not giving him the affection or attention he deserves in a relationship as I am putting a lot of my focus on myself. This was one of the reasons I was hesitant to continue the relationship in the first part but was challenged on this as he was in the relationship when we made choices that got us to where we are so he needs to be part of the process to get us out of it. I appreciate this. However, I have a lot of work that I need to do with myself and he is there to support me in it (I often feel guilt or pressure from him even though his actions/words aren't anything to be guilted/pressured about).

    I am depressed. I'm currently not working (contract work can be a challenge) which is a blow to my integrity as I have always been sure to work and be financially secure. This is being jeopardized now. I continue to tell myself this process is for the better and that by working it would just take my attention away from the work I need to do. It's always easy to be "busy" with a job and forget about the real work, right? I'm also, in a sense, grieving the choices that we made (a lot of international travel and going to places I didn't genuinely want to go) that got me into this financial situation (it's not bad, but it's not great). He, on the other hand, financed very few trips as he wasn't always working steadily at the time... but his motivation and choice to go on these trips made me feel like it was something I had to be part of even though I often expressed concern at the time that it wasn't the right time to go.

    Sex when we first met was intense. We lived two hours apart and saw each other at least once a week so when we did see each other we were excited and horny. Our sex life over the 4 years has had its ups and downs... as is natural. Spending two summers away from each other didn't help (one time I was international so not easy to arrange a quick weekend together). He was going through some of his own personal issues early in our relationship so sex was non-existent then it came back. Now I'm in the stage of not wanting it at all as I go through my personal issues.

    I'd say the majority of the dissatisfaction at present is due to me. He's gone through a progressive process of his own and made leaps and bounds. I'm still working on it. This, though, doesn't make me want to be in the relationship any more than previous. It's a tough one and often I think 'sometimes, some lessons are learned best through pain.' I realize this sounds harsh but at what point is the breaking point? Or at what point does everything turn around and we are high functioning, confident, outgoing, and assertive individuals that makes us that much stronger as a pair... ?

    Thanks to all those offering advice whether it's direct or prompting for more information.

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