Sex ad­vice with Mrs Salisbury

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - ADVICE - Robyn Salisbury is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist. Email ques­tions to MrsSal­is­bury@sex­ther­apy.co.nz.

For two years I have been hav­ing a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship with a man I will call Bill. I love be­ing with this man. He is kind, love­able and when we get to­gether we have a great time. Our sex is phe­nom­e­nal.

The prob­lem is his ex-girl­friend. She has a new boyfriend, but seems to con­stantly be in touch with Bill ei­ther by phone, texts, emails or when she vis­its him. I got a di­vorce be­cause of in­fi­delity, and the con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­ally both­ers me. We get into ar­gu­ments be­cause of this; I have ex­pressed my con­cerns to Bill but he says they are just friends, and that I need to get used to it.

Do I? Does his ex re­ally know the close re­la­tion­ship we have? Do you think he is still in love with this woman, and I need to move on? Please ad­vise. I feel be­trayed some­times. You’re rais­ing the hugely im­por­tant is­sue of loy­alty and all the com­plex­i­ties of this in your sit­u­a­tion. Liv­ing apart omits the se­cu­rity of vis­i­ble com­mit­ment, not that that is any guar­an­tee but it would en­sure this ex knows Bill has en­tered an­other re­la­tion­ship. What kind of re­la­tion­ship con­tract do you two have? You sound like you want a monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ship; what about Bill?

It’s true you don’t have the right to dic­tate your part­ner’s friends – that wouldn’t be a sound base for a re­la­tion­ship. Equally im­por­tant is con­sid­er­a­tion. If my contact with an ex was driv­ing my part­ner crazy, I’d want to be mod­er­at­ing that contact, at least un­til I have built up trust with my part­ner that I’m se­ri­ous about “us”. Your part in that kind of agree­ment would be to work hard on fac­ing your fears of get­ting hurt again and en­sur­ing you lay old bag­gage to rest.

Right now it’s un­clear how much that bag­gage may be driv­ing your feel­ing of be­trayal ver­sus wise in­tu­ition. It would also be help­ful for Bill to ex­am­ine for him­self ex­actly what needs this friend­ship serves, given the in­ten­sity of contact. Is it an ego boost or has he not ac­tu­ally let go? It’s very easy to go from friend to lover, but to move suc­cess­fully from lover to friend –

I be­lieve – re­quires a year or so of non-contact.

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