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Can I break free without being the bad guy?

Dear Dr Nekia,

I started seeing this girl three years ago. Everything was cool and then I lost my job. I couldn't find another one soon enough to keep me afloat so she offered to let me move in with her and her son. I took her up on the offer and over time we grew closer and we are now in a relationship. I now have a new job and things are finally looking up for me. Her son and I are cool and I think she is hoping that we will be a family, but I don't see it going that way. I don't want to seem like I just used her, because I am grateful and do care about her. How can I break free without looking like the bad guy?


She Helped Me Out

Dear She Helped Me Out,

I don't doubt that you are appreciative of the lending hand you were given nor do I doubt that you care for her. I doubt that you moved in thinking that you would just use her for the time being, but I do think that you weren't honest with yourself or realistic about the possible outcomes. First of all, there was a child to consider. No one should move in with a single parent unless they are willing to play a role in the child's day-to-day life and also be there for the long haul.

Children are impressionable and they also are trusting, which leads to them forming emotional bonds with adults. Consider that the child already had to deal with daddy not being at home and now you are on the path to exiting his life as well. This can be very traumatic and can lead to long-term trust issues. This is not to guilt you into staying. In fact, you are doing no one any justice by staying if you do not truly want to be there.

Living in proximity and having a sense of gratefulness towards someone who is meeting a survival need is sure to create a certain bond but is it the kind of bond that long-lasting, loving relationships are built upon? Do you think that the two of you would have become this close if it were not for your unfortunate circumstance? If the answer is no, then be honest enough to admit this to yourself. Even though it may look bad that you are leaving once you got on your feet, you have to be true to yourself and everyone involved. She deserves a man who truly wants to be in her and her son's life, not someone who is there out of guilt or obligation.

Come up with a plan of how and when you will leave the household. It will have to be one that takes her feelings into consideration, as well as that of her son's. Explain that you are grateful for her support but that it is important for you as a man to be able to stand on your own two feet.

If you would still like to continue a relationship with her, reassure her of this but if not, be honest and give your reasons why. There is no easy way to do this, but it is time that you man up to the reality that you have created here. Once the dust has settled and hurt feelings begin to soothe, everyone will be better off. You will have the distance that you need to relieve some of the pressure you are feeling from the expectations of building a family and she and her son will be given opportunity to choose their own path. Dishonesty, half-truths and omission to spare someone's feelings, hide shame, or take the edge off guilt are never the right course of action.

Dear Dr Nekia,

My boyfriend and I became intimate and we are having some troubles already. Outside of the bedroom everything is fine, but he is putting pressure on me to show more interest inside the bedroom.

The thing is that I am not much of a noise maker during foreplay or sex. I enjoy being with him, but I just cannot seem to bring myself to express it vocally. None of my prior boyfriends seemed to really care. I had no problems expressing myself with my first love, but ever since then I am quiet — even when orgasming. I don't know why I am this way, and when I try to make an effort to moan, a bunch of thoughts run through my head and that turns me off completely. How can I get past this so that I can please my man?


Silent Lover

Dear Silent Lover,

Many women have trouble expressing themselves during sex and the reasons for this are numerous but in your case it would seem as though your inability to express comes from unresolved feelings regarding your first love. Expressing pleasure during sex is a very intimate act that requires some level of vulnerability.

One sure, underlying truth is that sex and its enjoyment requires us to be naked and vulnerable — from our stress, our problems, our jobs, our obligations and from much of what is going on around us.

The ability to strip naked of these things is directly correlated to a man's ability to keep an erection and a woman's ability to orgasm.

I am sure you have heard that the main sex organ of the body is the brain. This is because it is the brain that processes feelings, perception, emotion and thought.

So if the brain is overcome by thoughts of other things, it cannot give proper attention to processing all of the good sexual sensations that the body is experiencing. Sometimes we are not aware of what is distracting the brain and we try so hard to relax and enjoy ourselves that it puts more stress on the brain and we end up turning ourselves off completely.

Unawareness comes from deep-rooted or buried emotions, memories and thoughts that we carry with us daily.

If these surround a traumatic experience of an intimate nature where we felt vulnerable — either sexual or non-sexual — they can very easily be recalled by the conscious or unconscious mind and disrupt sex. In your case, I would guess that the break-up from your first love is something that you have never fully gotten over.

Do you hold back from giving yourself in other areas of your relationships? Is there some way in which you can recognise a fear of being vulnerable or getting hurt again?

It may be that you are fearful of expressing joy and pleasure that is given to you because if you accept that joy and express it, it becomes real.

Once it becomes real then the chance of it being taken away from you also becomes real. Trying to force yourself to moan is like a man trying to force himself to get an erection if his body is not co-operating. It won't work and you will only become frustrated.

Try to build up to this by maybe talking instead. Not necessarily dirty talk, but by saying little things like: I like that, I enjoy being with you, this feels good, etc. It may seem silly at first but the goal is to get you to open your mouth and express yourself.

Let your partner in on your efforts and maybe he can encourage you by asking you questions: does this feel good? do you want me to stop? etc.

If I am correct in my assessment of your situation, change will not happen overnight, but it will eventually happen.

Practice makes perfect, and if you need help recalling or resolving unresolved feelings, please seek help with this. Counselling is a very small price to pay for happiness and the success of a loving relationship.

Want relationship advice? E-mail

Seeking answers: a reader feels trapped in a relationship by a sense of gratitude to his partner after she helped him when he was unemployed

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Published February 13, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 13, 2017 at 7:43 am)

Can I break free without being the bad guy?

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