Dear Dr. Romance:

I came across your blog while searching the internet for help for women In dysfunctional relationships. . Your language and spiritual, yet non judgmental  approach really resonated with me.  

I am an ethnically mixed  woman in my thirties. My parents divorced when I was young and I have been raised by my mother as a Muslim also with some alternative spiritual beliefs. I don't drink or smoke or do any type of drugs, in fact I don't even swear! I  have always been a spiritual and somewhat religious person, and see  myself as someone with great potential for an exceptional life. Some people think of me as quite beautiful and feel I have a unique gift of song.

My relationship is totally dysfunctional and I want to be able to get myself out of it. I feel very unsure of myself, unable to maneuver in my life. I take a few steps here and there but never allow anything to come to fruition. The primary relationships in my life are with my mother and this man. my relationship with my mother has become increasingly suffocating as I get older and remain unmarried. I feel guilty and also worried that my life is passing me by. I am still a virgin (technically) even though I have been in two relationships, including this man who told me he wanted to marry me and said he'd wait, but after about a year and a half I found out he had been cheating on me. I stayed with him despite his infidelity and although we had a sexual life I could not bring myself to let him take my virginity.  I have always felt guilty around sexual activity  because I wanted to wait until marriage.  

Now I find myself with this wonderfully charming, talented, charismatic, masculine man who I still love very much,who has cheated on me repeatedly, and uses drugs and I'm not sure even really wants to be with me. I feel so frustrated with myself because I still want him. I've gone out on one or two dates but I can't seem to move on. I now feel almost embarrassed about being a virgin at my age.  I worry especially  what God thinks of me. My life has become totally dysfunctional in almost every area. I want to feel truly good about myself again, from the core of my being. I believe there is so much I can offer the world. I am trying to pull myself up but I think I need some help in strengthening myself. 

Dear Reader:
You sound very confused and conflicted about sex and relationships.  I think your focus is on the wrong aspects of love.  First, you need to figure out what you want from a relationship, and then make sure any man you connect with has similar values and goals. Whether or not you have sex before marriage should not be the most important thing.  No matter how charismatic and charming he is, a man who has cheated on you repeatedly is not wonderful.  On the other hand, your connection with him doesn't sound very fulfilling to either of you.  Are you financially dependent on him, or on your mother? At 35, it's important to be financially self-sufficient, even if you're trying to get a music career together.  You are an adult woman, and you don't need to be obligated to anyone other than yourself.  While it's important to have close relationships, including with your mother, it's also wise not to let them control you. 

It Ends With You:Grow up and out of Dysfunction will show you how to change and become more comfortable with who you are. "Getting Out of Your Way"  and "Response-ability" will help you move forward. 

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.