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How can we move forward after all the mistrust and resentment?

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  • #360295
    SunnyDays4126
    Participant

    Hi All, looking for some constructive advice on my relationship of almost 4 years.

    My partner at the very beginning of our relationship met up with someone he was dating right before we got back together and didn’t tell me – although nothing happened. We were together previously for 6 months about 1.5 years earlier but he broke it off.

    It’s been a struggle for 3 years for me to move past his omission – lots of fights, pain and arguments – him dismissing why I would be so hurt, me upset he just cannot understand my point of view. Past hurt of being dumped by him, and me getting my heart royally broken and ghosted by someone else after that had contributed to the severity of my pain.

    Now I have moved past it (through CBT therapy) he is so mad at me and wants me to change all these things about myself otherwise he’s done. He spent so long trying to make up for it it’s pretty much given up and has now handed the situation over for me to salvage and fix because he has tried for 3 years and it hasn’t worked. I explained it needs two people to fix a relationship but he feels that I wasn’t present when he was trying – I was, but my anxiety clouded my being. He refuses to accept this. He’s a logical personality who doesn’t believe in couples therapy and I’m an emotional personality.

    Thanks for listening,
    Lost and confused.

    #360366
    anita
    Participant

    Dear SunnyDays:

    If I understand correctly, you were in a six months relationship, and your boyfriend ended the relationship. Sometime during the 1.5 years that you were not in a relationship with him, he met with a woman he dated before the six months relationship, and you had a relationship with another man who ended up ghosting you. Then the two of you got back together, and for three years of the resumed relationship you started “lots of fights.. and arguments” with him about the topic of him having met another woman during the break.

    You wrote: “he just cannot understand my point of view”.  Your point of view, if I understand correctly, is that he caused you a lot of pain when he broke up with you, and when he got together with another woman during the break,  and the other man caused you a lot of pain when he ghosted you. All this hurt caused you to feel very angry, and you’ve been blaming him for all that hurt for three years by this point. Did I understand correctly?

    He took your blame and “spent so long trying to make up for it”, for your pain, and “pretty much given up” trying to make it up to you. He is saying that he wants you to change (“he.. wants me to change all these things about myself”). You told him that “it needs two people to fix a relationship”-

    Question: Do you agree with him that you should change some things about yourself, and did you try to change those things so to fix the relationship?

    anita

    #360471
    SunnyDays4126
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks so much for responding, I really appreciate it. Sorry if my post was a bit confusing!

    My partner and I were together for six months, he broke up with me, I wanted no further contact. 1.5 years later he comes back and says he still thinks about me. It was right at the end of this 1.5 years period that my partner was dating someone, when he had decided to get back in contact with me. At the time he told me he was already wanting to end it with her as he wasn’t interested in pursuing anything serious (she lived a few hours away and just generally wasn’t feeling it). There was some overlap of maybe 1 – 2 weeks from him talking with me and him ending it with her. When he told me he ended it with her he didn’t say that she asked if they could still be friends (he had obliged) and unbeknownst to me they were still speaking now and then. So when it came out that it was her her met I was very taken aback, and felt lied to.

    The issue and struggle was about him meeting that woman (who I didn’t know he was still in contact with) after we got back together officially i.e. he was already my boyfriend. He didn’t tell me it was the woman he essentially ‘left’ for me. Nor did I know they were still in contact.

    The fights and arguments were always about our conflicting points of view on the event. Me: he lied by omission. Him: he did nothing wrong by meeting her. Which, technically he didn’t but it’s the fact he didn’t see it as information to share is what got me. He apologised for not telling me or being aware it was something I’d want to know about. To be fair, if I had have known at the time, I wouldn’t have stopped him.

    You’ve understood my point of view, perfectly. To add to it, I do blame him for the pain of getting ghosted during 1.5 year period because he broke up with me in the first place, then came back again after realising he still missed me. And I am hurt he then caused more pain by not telling me he a) was still speaking to that woman (who still liked him) and b) not telling me he met up with her.

    To answer your question, yes, I do think there are anxiety-related behaviours that I need to keep in check. I have low self esteem and get jealous quite easily (youngest child syndrome who was spoilt) which is a work in progress. The issue is that even when I think I’m doing better my partner refuses to see it. He has basically said he’s no longer putting in any effort until he sees a reason to – i.e. sees me changing my behaviour. Unfortunately, lockdown happened so we’ve been in each other’s pockets for a good 4 months, and life isn’t normal so the situation doesn’t exactly lend itself to him naturally seeing my changed behaviour play out.

    I don’t know if it’s too late for us, if he is being fair, if it’s all my fault, and I don’t know how to make him see that if he is only picking at the negative behaviours he will never see the changes.

    #360473
    anita
    Participant

    Dear SunnyDays:

    It would bother me too, if I was in your shoes, that he talked to his ex girlfriend from time to time and met her in person, and without my knowledge, while in a relationship with me.

    I want to point out that your boyfriend is not responsible for another man ghosting you. The other man is responsible for that, not your boyfriend.

    If your boyfriend no longer talks to (or meets) his ex girlfriend, and if he did his best to make amends to you for having talked to/ met her in the past, then I suggest that you never bring up the topic to him again. Whenever you feel that distressing jealousy you mentioned, endure it without saying anything to him.

    Because of the lockdown, it is very important that the two of you give each other lots of privacy and space, as much as possible. It is also very important to keep the peace in the home you share, because if there is no peace in the home during a lockdown- there is nowhere to go so to distract and relax.

    Don’t bring up to him topics on which the two of you disagreed in the past. Avoid and prevent disagreements, conflicts and arguments. Adopt the attitude of live-and-let-live with him. This is not the time to discuss the relationship and how to fix it. Instead, make the home peaceful and give each other as much privacy and space as possible.

    And do post again anytime.

    anita

     

    #360474
    SunnyDays4126
    Participant

    Thanks Anita.

    We were at this sticking point before the virus and lockdown ensued. It makes sense to keep the peace at home and stay in a holding pattern, but when are we meant to resume? We rarely discuss the issues now, and when we do it’s clear we are both unhappy that it’s continuing to be unaddressed and the conversation becomes a slinging match with so much tension being released from all the tip-toeing .

    I’m not wishing to force the situation, but I also can’t pretend it’s not happening. We had planned to move interstate later this year and he’s basically said he won’t until he sees reason to continue. He’s asked how many months does he give it before he knows? How long until I can turn to him and say I’m fixed?

    He rejects the idea that it’s an ongoing evolvement and not an overnight fix.

     

    #360476
    anita
    Participant

    Dear SunnyDays:

    “We rarely discuss the issues now, and when we do.. the conversation becomes a slinging match with so much tension being released from all the tip-toeing”-

    – here is what I suggest: give up on trying to fix the relationship. Let go of the hopes and plans. Start seeing the current cohabitation as temporary. Accept the probability of a separation. This state of mind will make it possible for you to be at some peace in your situation. If you give up, there will be no slinging matches and no tip-toeing.

    anita

    #360520
    Inky
    Participant

    Hi SunnyDays,

    Don’t get mad at me, but he probably didn’t tell you he was meeting up with the girl (probably to end it) was because you have a problem letting things go. Imagine you were with someone for half a year. Then you dumped him because Reasons. Then later you reconnect. You were kind of seeing this other guy. You met the other guy privately to quietly break it off with him. The other guy asks if you can still be friends. You reply, after a pause… “Sure”….

    Then you come home and your original BF is yelling at you for lying through omission. AND. HE. WON’T. LET. IT. GO. FOR. THREE. YEARS.

    Girl! I know it is a pandemic. But for your own mental health, and his, you have to move out. He is in that dangerous zone where he is “done” and “YOU” are the problem! You can be mad at him, sure, but how the heck can he redeem himself now? I’m confused what exactly he can do? Couple’s councelling? Is that penance?

    Best,

    Inky

     

    #360778
    Valora
    Participant

    Hi SunnyDays! I’m going to quote some of your original post and response to Anita below with my responses:

    The issue and struggle was about him meeting that woman (who I didn’t know he was still in contact with) after we got back together officially i.e. he was already my boyfriend. He didn’t tell me it was the woman he essentially ‘left’ for me. Nor did I know they were still in contact.

    The fights and arguments were always about our conflicting points of view on the event. Me: he lied by omission. Him: he did nothing wrong by meeting her. Which, technically he didn’t but it’s the fact he didn’t see it as information to share is what got me. He apologised for not telling me or being aware it was something I’d want to know about. To be fair, if I had have known at the time, I wouldn’t have stopped him.

    Here’s the thing…. Yes, it definitely would’ve been better if your boyfriend had come to you first before meeting up with her, but you said nothing bad happened, so that means his intentions for meeting up with her weren’t bad. He didn’t tell you because he didn’t know that he should’ve shared that information at the time. Guys think differently than girls. He really probably saw it as no big deal, just tying up loose ends with the previous relationship so he could move on with you, right? Then, he finds out that it WAS a big deal to you and he SHOULD have talked to you about it beforehand. Now he knows how you feel, but he cannot go back in time and undo the situation. You admitted in the part I bolded above that “technically he did nothing wrong,” so you shouldn’t be treating him as if he did. You see, he does not have to agree with you that he lied by omission as long as he respects in the future that you want him to tell you of things like this before he does them so that you don’t feel hurt. That’s literally all he can do to make it up to you. Changed behavior.

    He does not have to change his opinion to make it up to you… he has to change the behavior…. so… has he?  If this behavior has changed and he hasn’t done this to you again, then you desperately need to let this go.

    You’ve understood my point of view, perfectly. To add to it, I do blame him for the pain of getting ghosted during 1.5 year period because he broke up with me in the first place, then came back again after realising he still missed me. And I am hurt he then caused more pain by not telling me he a) was still speaking to that woman (who still liked him) and b) not telling me he met up with her.

    He is not to blame for another man ghosting you and it’s unfair of you to blame him for this. He IS to blame for breaking up with you, but that is a separate issue and one that should’ve been resolved before you became boyfriend and girlfriend again. Are you still holding onto a grudge for him breaking up with you the first time after only 6 months, and if so, why? Especially since he hasn’t done it again after you’ve been together for 3 years?  I feel like this is an issue that would be great to work through in CBT, figuring out exactly why you’re holding a grudge over something that happened so long ago when it seems like he’s stuck by you ever since.

    To answer your question, yes, I do think there are anxiety-related behaviours that I need to keep in check. I have low self esteem and get jealous quite easily (youngest child syndrome who was spoilt) which is a work in progress. The issue is that even when I think I’m doing better my partner refuses to see it. He has basically said he’s no longer putting in any effort until he sees a reason to – i.e. sees me changing my behaviour. Unfortunately, lockdown happened so we’ve been in each other’s pockets for a good 4 months, and life isn’t normal so the situation doesn’t exactly lend itself to him naturally seeing my changed behaviour play out.

    I am a youngest child who was very spoiled, and to be honest, I don’t think jealousy or low self-esteem has anything to do with those things (that’s usually a middle child problem). I think there’s something else causing it and it’s up to you to work through it and figure out the root issue so that you can heal it. It might be hard for your partner to see any changed behavior at first because he is probably feeling some resentment, and that can be hard to look past. SO, if you truly want to fix things for him, you’re going to have to stop being so critical of him. Just work on you. And look up some of the work by John Gottman. He’s done lectures on YouTube that are fantastic as far as relationships go, and his research has shown that partners being critical of each other is a relationship death sentence.  Another thing to look into would be the love languages. Figure out what both of yours are. When you figure out yours, you can tell him some specific things that you love and that’s a concrete thing he can do to make you feel good (which guys’ logical, instruction-oriented brains love), and when you learn of his, you will both see things that you can do for him that will make him feel loved AND you’ll start to notice some of the different things he’s done that has shown love to you (because people tend to show love in their own love languages).

    Otherwise, if you keep going down the path you two are on, you might as well separate. So my advice if you’d really like to work things out is for you to let all of that stuff in the past go. Start fresh. Show love to him and stop being critical. You make that move to turn toward him in love and he will likely start turning back toward you again too, but if you constantly remind him that he’s not doing things right, it’s going to just push him further away at this point.

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