Is she in this relationship for sex – or to build a new life?

How's your relationship life? What's stressing you out? Send a question about it to [email protected] or fill out this form.

I'm with a woman I love dearly. We are in our 40s. We were friends for 10 years before we got involved. The details of us getting involved are complicated. She separated from her husband a year ago. We had become physically intimate not long before that. Maybe a couple of months. I question the longevity of our relationship because of the foundation.

Now she is going through a rather nasty divorce. I honestly wonder how her son is going to fit into the picture. He's only a toddler, the same age as my nephew, but he doesn’t seem to like me very much. The boys tend to get along great and I love that, but he seems to dislike me being around. There’s also a language barrier. (I am learning her language so I can communicate better with her son.) On my side, since we became a couple, she has become great friends with my sister.

But other parts of the relationship concern me too. The sex life I have with my girlfriend is fantastic, in my opinion. She occasionally expresses concern that it's not more often than once or twice a day at this point, but I see quality over quantity.

Is it a relationship about sex? Healing past wounds? Building a new life for her? What am I part of?


It's all too much, too soon, right?

It sounds like you can't figure out what’s happening in the relationship – and how much you like it – because the two of you became a serious couple right off the bat. Maybe the foundation is weird because it overlapped with her marriage, but it's also because you went from friendship to everything. A year in, everything is enmeshed.

It's difficult to take steps back without ending a relationship, but I do think some space might save this – or at least help you figure out why you're there. If her son is uncomfortable with you being around, give him more time alone with his mom. Show up more often when he's not there – or when you can bring your nephew so it's more of a playdate.

Your girlfriend wants more sex, but that requires you being over a lot. I'm not sure that's what's best for her family right now – or for you. Find out if she can understand.

Space will also give you the chance to remember why you're in this. Right now you seem to be following her lead, fitting yourself in based on her needs. Consider your own. Are you seeing friends and family without her? Are you alone at all? Taking some time for yourself will help you find balance.

Talk to your girlfriend about a schedule that gives her more time alone with her son, and more time for you to take a beat. Tell her how much you love the relationship, but that you're still figuring it out, which is OK.

Honestly, until you can answer the last questions in your letter on your own, or have a gut feeling about what it's all about, don’t take any more big steps.

– Meredith

Readers? What is this about? Is it possible to take a step back without ending things?