For the last two years I've been dating the same woman. I have not been enjoying it much, she apparently has. That's presumably for a couple of reasons; one because I only feel comfortable giving, not receiving. And two, because I see any sexual interaction of a man with a woman as her giving and him receiving. And three, because I don't have any personal hope of being in a relationship that benefits me.
Back in 2010, one of the first posts on this blog was Giving and Mutuality In that post I mentioned:
I learn easily, but tend to take hyperbolic lessons literally and too far. While learning to solder pipe I was told that you can't overheat it; they said that because the most common problem is underheating it. I overheated it every time and the solder would bead and run off instead of coating the pipe and being sucked into the joint as it should.
From sources calling themselves social conservative or feminist, intending to prevent loss of chastity or sexual aggression respectively, from the male-dominated entertainment media, and from my ex, I have learned that female sexuality has infinite value and male sexuality has negative value. And that lesson has sunk in so deeply at this point that it short-circuits my libido in fantasies; I am changing in a temporary way at least from heterosexual to asexual. In my mind, sexual activity puts me in debt that I can never pay. I don't see a girl flirting, I see separately a friendly person and a price tag that says $∞. I interact in a friendly way with the friendly person and ignore what's behind the price tag.
This, by the way, seems to be incredibly appealing to women. A little while ago I was declared official convention date of a whole all-female dance troupe. It's all very ironic for a nerdy guy who was an involuntary virgin for a long time. (Later for religious reasons.)
At least as big as this sexual aspect is the one where I only feel comfortable giving and not receiving. In a relationship, I give and give, and I try hard to block any return. My health is not that great, and when I've given all I can I still feel like it's not enough.
So, as this has developed, I've less and less wanted to be in any kind of romantic relationship, and I talked to my girlfriend about that a couple of months ago. She has a very different view of the relationship, probably because she's thinking of everything she WOULD do if allowed rather than how I feel guilty for any giving she gets past me. She seemed to kind of blow off my feelings as something that could be fixed with antidepressants. Then she was diagnosed with cancer.
I threw myself into taking care of her as much as I could and moved the whole not wanting to be in a relationship thing aside. My work has suffered and I've been feeling pretty bad; I've had a cough for over three weeks now. I have an appointment with a doctor tomorrow for the first time in about four years.
She's been telling people that I'm her angel, and the only thing I feel is guilty that I haven't done enough. How can I be happy in a relationship thinking like this?
Rereading Giving and Mutuality was a little depressing because I have gone the opposite direction from what I was hoping there.
But in another way I feel like I'm getting closer to the Nirvana of freedom from desire. I don't really even want to change. I know there are men out there who are happier than they would have been alone, some of you used to read this, but such husbands seem so few, and I was so miserable in those last years with my ex.