Q: I have been seeing a woman for three years. We get along great, but we have had some bad times. During her 16-year marriage, she had a “sex buddy” for 10 of the 16 years, she had an affair with a neighbor and she had an affair with me. She has called me other men’s names during sex, and she used to flirt with other men in front of me but has stopped that.
She told my friends that the best sex she had was on a boat. Unfortunately, I don’t have a boat. She kissed my friend in a bar in front of me, and she invited me to a work party, ignored me and spent all of her time talking to the guy she had the 10-year affair with. Those are just some of the issues.
She tells me she loves me more than she has ever loved anyone and wants only me. Am I an idiot to stay with her?
– K.P., Cheektowaga
A: Intellectually, of course, the answer is yes, but emotionally, you keep saying no. My guess is that because you have asked this question, you already know the answer. I’m here to reiterate that you probably believe that your love will change her, or that she’s been misunderstood in the past, and if you try a little harder, you can finally win her forever.
I’m sorry, but she has a severe character defect. She keeps you hooked by saying sweet things to you – that’s what narcissists do. There’s nothing you or anyone else can do for her. In fact, if you really love her, the best thing you can do is walk away so she can feel the pain and finally go for the counseling she needs.
It is wonderful when a victim of a narcissist/serial cheater finally breaks free. Over time, your anxiety and stress diminish. The fear and mistrust disappear. Your creativity and strength and happiness return. You will smile more, and your steps will be more lively and confident.
Q: I have been engaged to the man I love for a year. The problem is, he doesn’t please me in bed, and I don’t know what to do. He has every other quality that I look for in a man, and I love him like I’ve never loved anyone in my life. I have had other boyfriends, but he is the first one I ever considered marrying. I thought that over time he would get to know me sexually and the experience would improve, but it hasn’t. I have tried to explain to him that I need him to remember what I like, but every time I do it he feels criticized and ridiculed. When I say it more casually, he simply ignores it. What can I do?
– R.O., Amherst
A: Don’t marry him until you two can generate a satisfying sex life together. If you can’t get to the point where he sexually satisfies you, you’ll have to admit that, sadly, you two aren’t meant to be.
There isn’t anything that has a greater impact on a man’s ego than his ability to please his partner, so tread carefully. The key is in how you deliver the message.
Instead of statements that he will take as criticism (“Not that,” “You’re doing it wrong”), state your feedback as “I love it when you...” and insert whatever it is you want him to do. This comes across as “You did that well – please do it again!”
I would recommend seeing a couple’s counselor anyway.
Patti Novak welcomes your relationship questions. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and please include your initials and hometown.