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Zero intimacy in 7-year relationship


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I met my partner online seven years ago. We have a two year-old child together.

My partner seemed like a good and kind person when we met, and she still does, but she has never told me she loves me, has never really seemed interested in getting to know me on a deep level, has never initiated sex and has never complimented me.

I used to tell her that I loved her regularly at the beginning of the relationship and was always complimenting her character and appearance, encouraging her with work / her dreams, but I have never had the same back. 

I stayed hoping things would get better. I loved and liked her. We can have a good laugh together. But over time I started to feel very sad inside.

After we’d been together for a couple of years, she stopped working for a period of several years, and during this time I paid off her debts, bought her a laptop, and spent $10,000 to help her get her sewing business idea started. This has not taken off, perhaps partly because our daughter arrived (and that’s fair enough), but she also tells me that *I haven’t done enough* to help her. She can get quite moody about it.

Over the years, whenever I’ve asked her why she has never told me that she loves me, never complimented me, never initiated sex - she gets angry and accuses me of being mentally ill, tells me I need to see a therapist, tells me that I’ve always got some kind of problem with her.

And I must admit, it has started to become like a stuck record… I bottle things up as much as I can because she is so unreceptive, and on the rare occasions I feel like I simply have to say something, she invalidates my feelings entirely. I have grown fearful of sharing thoughts and feelings with her.

I’ve started to feel really guilty for feeling the way I do, but I don’t know how to handle this persistent grinding feeling of being completely starved of intimacy and emotional connection.

Over the years, it has definitely eaten away at my sense of self esteem. I’m not sure it would be possible to feel any less attractive, appreciated or desired than I do. I blame myself. I get angry with myself. I feel like an idiot for allowing things to continue for so long in such a deeply unfulfilling way.

Of course we have the most wonderful daughter who I love to bits, but I find myself hoping she doesn’t learn that this is how a relationship is supposed to look. 

At times the situation has made me feel quite desperate.

I moved to a separate bedroom in the house - the house that I bought - a month or so ago. Our sex life had dwindled to once a year anyway, and it almost felt dishonest to keep sharing the same bed.

Separating would not be easy as she earns very little, she doesn’t drive, I pay for 90% of the bills and other expenses. I also have to look after my other family members (parents) quite a bit who struggle financially and need my support.

Not sure why I’m posting this here really. I guess I’m just looking for a kind word from someone. Really, I already know what I have to do. At least I think so. Thanks for reading, and sorry it was so long.

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The real issue here is why did you stay? Was it because it's safer? You know she's never going to have those loving feelings if she does not by now so then it's safer for you -less emotional investment- you get to chase her and do her bidding including financially - and you can walk away whenever because "well you're not into me anyway"

I'm sorry you two chose to bring a child into this. I'd separate and put the best interests of the child first -meaning live in separate residences so you can both move on with your lives whether that means dating someone else or otherwise.  Figure out a co-parenting plan that puts your child's interests first -she didn't choose this situation -you did.

I'd stop beating yourself up -your child needs you to be a role model and provide healthy structure so you being all in your head and feeling sorry for yourself isn't consistent with that.  On to better things for you and your child.

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11 hours ago, Endoftheroad said:

Separating would not be easy as she earns very little, she doesn’t drive, I pay for 90% of the bills and other expenses. I also have to look after my other family members (parents) quite a bit who struggle financially and need my support.

In your shoes, I'd probably start focusing on the subject of financial matters for both your family and that of your parents. It's not fair that your parents are relying on you in that area. Are there changes that could be made? Do your parents live in a really large house they could sell and begin living in lower cost digs? Is there any antiques they could sell, or could they downsize to one car if they have two? Are they working and if not, why not? Don't be a doormat if they are helping themselves. And elderly people often don't like change, such as moving, but if you're being treated unfairly, insist on those changes with an ultimatum. 

Then if it were my spouse, I'd let her know I can't live like this anymore and that we would have to start planning finances for an eventual divorce, which will mean her learning to drive. I'd probably wait until your child starts pre-school so your wife can get work during school hours, and discuss that plan. And at that time, it might be in your best interest to sell the house if it makes financial sense for a divorce. This would give your wife time to set up a financial plan/work goals, since your custody payments won't be enough for her without her own paycheck.

You could now also start cutting luxury expenses such as if you have a cable bill. Get Internet only and get a TV antenna. Buy grocery food far more than getting takeout and restaurant food. Buy clothes at consignment shops or other used clothing stores, etc.

Speaking to a lawyer will help guide you in what to expect. Take care.

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11 hours ago, Endoftheroad said:

...she also tells me that *I haven’t done enough* to help her. She can get quite moody about it.

"How about if we revisit this over a list of some things you believe that I can do to help you, and we can discuss them? I'm open to productive suggestions."

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Over the years, whenever I’ve asked her why she has never told me that she loves me, never complimented me, never initiated sex - she gets angry and accuses me of being mentally ill, tells me I need to see a therapist, tells me that I’ve always got some kind of problem with her.

Waiting until you boil over to confront her doesn't exactly open any doors to productive conversation, just her reaction to feeling accused.

Have you been modeling the kind of behavior you'd prefer from her? If both partners are shut down--and sleeping in different rooms--there's really nowhere for the marriage to go.

11 hours ago, Endoftheroad said:

I feel like an idiot for allowing things to continue for so long in such a deeply unfulfilling way.

Are the two of you isolated together, or have either of you cultivated any friendships outside the home?

Other couples can model for us and enliven in us a healthier way of relating with our own partners.

Have you consulted an attorney? Would you have an option of moving in with your parents to separate? Once you learn what options you have available to you, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions rather than operate on emotions alone.

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Why would it be hard to separate?  She's your GF not your wife.  The fact that she doesn't work & can't drive are her problems.  Kick her out.  Keep custody of your kid.  Give her visitation. 

Move your other family members in with you to provide childcare & reduce your overall financial obligations.  

Problem solved. 

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On 6/2/2024 at 1:20 AM, Endoftheroad said:

I’ve started to feel really guilty for feeling the way I do, but I don’t know how to handle this persistent grinding feeling of being completely starved of intimacy and emotional connection.

Over the years, it has definitely eaten away at my sense of self esteem. I’m not sure it would be possible to feel any less attractive, appreciated or desired than I do. I blame myself.

She has never said she loves you. 

She has never complimented you or tried to really get to know you.

She gets mad at you for not supporting her enough when you've gone out of your way to financially support her and cover her debts.

She calls you mentally ill. She invalidates your feelings.

She has made you feel unattractive and unappreicated.

What do you have to feel guilty about? Why would you blame yourself? You have been far more patient and understanding then most people and given her everything. She is the one who has treated you poorly at every turn. She should be the one feeling guilty.

Relationships should be a partnership. It should be 50/50. Right now it is close to 100/0, and not just financially but emotionally as well. She has never been invested in this and it's not fair to you to continue to take it. 

It's sweet that you've wanted to take care of her all these years. But at the same time you need to take care of yourself. This relationship is unhealthy for you and you are better off free from it. She is an adult who can take care of herself. Maybe it's time she starts to act like one?

And this experience doesn't have to be all bad. That daughter can be the bright spot in all of it. You gained something beautiful, her. If you want her to learn how to have a postive, healthy relationship, you need to lead by example.

 

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It is never to late to see things clearly and try and fix a mistake.  It was a mistake to hang in there this long but that doesn't mean it is a life sentence.

 Seek some legal advice, look into selling the house and most of all find a therapist that can help you with your self esteem as she has crushed yours.

There is a life away from this woman and being alone and co parenting would be way better then continuation in this sham relationship.

Your daughter will be fine and you are very correct that she may learn this is how a healthy relationship is supposed to be so you will not only be saving yourself but your daughter as well.

Lost

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17 hours ago, TeeDee said:

Why would it be hard to separate?  She's your GF not your wife.  The fact that she doesn't work & can't drive are her problems.  Kick her out.  Keep custody of your kid.  Give her visitation. 

Move your other family members in with you to provide childcare & reduce your overall financial obligations.  

Problem solved. 

The difficulty in separating would mainly be financial, I think. 

Since she doesn’t earn very much at all and has no savings - and in this country the woman will typically get custody unless the circumstances are very exceptional, I assume I would probably have to buy her / my daughter a place to live. Or at least cover their rent which would be very expensive in this city.

The knock on effects of having to pay her rent / buy them a place to live as well as covering child support payments would make it difficult to help my parents any more. Within a few years I may have to pay for medical treatment / nursing homes and so on. They are both in their 80s.

I’m also concerned that since she doesn’t drive, if she has custody she will probably struggle to make simple trips when / if needed (especially problematic if there is any urgent reason why a trip to a doctor / hospital would be needed)

So a few things to consider. I wish it could be as easy as me taking custody and her going to live elsewhere. If that were possible I’d jump at the chance, but I’d still help her out obviously (a destitute mother in this scenario helps no-one)

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Talk to a lawyer! She is still at an age where she can find employment. She can't refuse to work unless she claims disability...if it's mental, that's your lead into getting full custody. 

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1 hour ago, smackie9 said:

Talk to a lawyer! She is still at an age where she can find employment. She can't refuse to work unless she claims disability...if it's mental, that's your lead into getting full custody. 

She doesn’t have any mental illness… but she isn’t hugely qualified for higher-paying work. She has been working part time for the past 8 months, and has been able to contribute 15-20% or so towards monthly bills.

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2 hours ago, Endoftheroad said:

She doesn’t have any mental illness… but she isn’t hugely qualified for higher-paying work. She has been working part time for the past 8 months, and has been able to contribute 15-20% or so towards monthly bills.

You don't see but I do. 

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9 hours ago, smackie9 said:

You don't see but I do. 

Actual mental illness is nothing to joke about. And I don't believe any of us here are qualified to diagnose someone we have never met.

Endoftheroad, besides seeing a lawyer, could you consult a financial planner? It seems like you are stuck being the only real support for everyone else. While its admirable, its also too much for any one person. I would look into programs or plans that might get your parents assistance cheaper. If your girlfriend doesn't have the skills she needs, is the a program to help her get skills that would enable her to find better work? Are there friends who could help? Maybe she can move in with someone so the financial burden is split? Instead of covering it all yourself, find ways to lighten your load and let others take more responsibility for themselves.

Of course, you know how things are in your area better then we do. I defer to your judgment. 

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You need to fight for primary custody, it's clear this woman can't support a child and is incapable of providing the basic needs for the child.

This woman is a mess, and has gaslight you into one hell of a corner. You have done more than your share here (paying off her debts). There is nothing left here to work on.

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On 6/4/2024 at 5:26 AM, Endoftheroad said:

...I assume I would probably have to

Stop operating on assumptions and make the appointment with Legal Aid or an attorney to learn your ACTUAL rights and ACTUAL options--along with the best steps you can take toward freedom.

Is moving in with your parents a cost-saving option to separate? Learn from an attorney.

Millions of people separate or divorce. If it's doable for them, it's doable for you.

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You are making the same mistake a lot of people make which is assuming they are going to have to pay for everything or that custody is not an option.

 Is there a way to get some legal advice so you at least know real factual information so you can make your decisions from there instead guessing you would be screwed.

 Please seek out some professional legal advice as you think over these life changing decisions.

Lost

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I've contacted a solicitor a couple of days ago (a recommendation) and am waiting to hear back. Will chase tomorrow.

In the meantime I've told my partner that I've reached the end of the road. She said "then you'll have to buy somewhere for us to live" (meaning her and my daughter). I told her that I'm not sure that's how it will go, but we'll see. She said "excuse me!?". She is apparently taking for granted that she will get custody (which would mean I have to pay for her to find somewhere to live, plus the maintenance payments)

Since that conversation, I've tried to keep things civil. She is still living here of course. I can't simply kick her out (as someone here suggested) because she has nowhere to go and no money. Besides, I cannot force her to leave under UK law.

Yesterday she forgot her keys on her way to work, so she came back to get them. We don't have a doorbell - we only have a heavy brass knocker.

BANG BANG BANG. I immediately start making my way downstairs from the second floor of the house.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. I get to the first floor.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. I finally answer, obviously a little annoyed that she felt the need to act out her unreasonable impatience by knocking 20 times. She said she was just in a hurry and "there was nothing more to it." 

Around 7pm today, I went out to the garden terrace and noticed that the seagulls had been picking at the bins. Rubbish from the bags was strewn all over the terrace. I was holding my daughter so I asked my partner if she could clear it up.

"I'll do it tomorrow" she said, as she started wandering around the garden. It would have taken two minutes max, and if it had been left it could have got much worse overnight. I did it myself.

Seems like she's pretty angry. I'm used to being mistreated, so this isn't that unusual I suppose. It's just that now I'm much less willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I only hope it doesn't carry on this way for months and months.

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56 minutes ago, Endoftheroad said:

I've contacted a solicitor a couple of days ago (a recommendation) and am waiting to hear back. Will chase tomorrow.

In the meantime I've told my partner that I've reached the end of the road. She said "then you'll have to buy somewhere for us to live" (meaning her and my daughter). I told her that I'm not sure that's how it will go, but we'll see. She said "excuse me!?". She is apparently taking for granted that she will get custody (which would mean I have to pay for her to find somewhere to live, plus the maintenance payments)

Since that conversation, I've tried to keep things civil. She is still living here of course. I can't simply kick her out (as someone here suggested) because she has nowhere to go and no money. Besides, I cannot force her to leave under UK law.

Yesterday she forgot her keys on her way to work, so she came back to get them. We don't have a doorbell - we only have a heavy brass knocker.

BANG BANG BANG. I immediately start making my way downstairs from the second floor of the house.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. I get to the first floor.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. I finally answer, obviously a little annoyed that she felt the need to act out her unreasonable impatience by knocking 20 times. She said she was just in a hurry and "there was nothing more to it." 

Around 7pm today, I went out to the garden terrace and noticed that the seagulls had been picking at the bins. Rubbish from the bags was strewn all over the terrace. I was holding my daughter so I asked my partner if she could clear it up.

"I'll do it tomorrow" she said, as she started wandering around the garden. It would have taken two minutes max, and if it had been left it could have got much worse overnight. I did it myself.

Seems like she's pretty angry. I'm used to being mistreated, so this isn't that unusual I suppose. It's just that now I'm much less willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I only hope it doesn't carry on this way for months and months.

If you’re in the UK, then you have every chance at gaining full physical custody of your daughter even if you don’t have full parental responsibility. 

I’m Australian but met, married, and had my son in the UK with my non-British partner. We separated and I had to leave the UK because I was a dependent on his visa and could not get leave to remain outside the immigration rules in order for us to co-parent (which is what I wanted). So, by law, my ex-husband and I have equal parental responsibility, but in practice, I have sole physical custody (not legally speaking because we never had a court case for custody) because, by the very nature of living internationally, our son can only be with one of us at a time and it had been 2 years since my son saw his father in person (they have a video chat every week).

If your ex (which is what she is now that you have told her it is the end of the road and she didn’t seem to care beyond the financial aspect and living arrangement) cannot provide a suitable living space for your daughter and has no means to earn a living wage, then she is not fit to have physical custody of your daughter. She may retain equal parental responsibility without having primary physical custody. That is what you will need to find out with legal advice. It is very possible in the UK for the father to get primary or sole parental responsibility and don’t let your ex gaslight you into believing otherwise.

I would not have mentioned to her it was the end of the road until you had already spoken to legal about your situation. You have shown your hand a bit too early and it may make things more difficult living with her in the coming weeks, but only thing now is to move forward as best as is possible. I would not attempt a reconciliation with her because she clearly wasn’t concerned on an emotional and relationship level that your are done. So, I don’t think there is any way forward in your relationship. Do your best to remain civil and keep pursuing legal advice.

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The cats out of the bag now so don't worry about the timing. There is actually a silver lining with you telling her and that is you have spoken the words and started down the path.  That is the hard part, just admitting it needs to end and then taking that first step.

 Give no ground out of the goodness of your heart because she would not do it for you and you know that.  Every time you start feeling sorry for her just think about all the abuse she has thrown your way.

 Don't speak to her about anything else, don't make any promises, don't discuss custody, money or living arrangements.  Leave that to after you have all your legal rights explained to you. 

How do you feel now that you stood up for yourself?

Lost

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